watershed of Town Branch begins at the ridge line roughly along
and near Maple Street. Some water flows from north and west of Maple
but the divide is within a quarter-mile of Maple across the center
of Fayetteville and the western edge of the campus of the University
addition to the main stream, originating north of Maple and uphill
from Razorback Stadium, several smaller tributaries also flow from
the campus, including one that drains Baum Stadium and George Cole
Field, another that parallels West Avenue and collects water from
Maple, Lafayette, Dickson and other downtown Streets before it passes
through Walker Park, another that drains the southern part of the
Washington-Willow Historic District and the southwestern portion
of Mount Sequoyah and flows past the Yvonne Richardson Center on
its way to Town Branch near 15th Street.
significant water comes from the west and south, but the rural tributaries
of Town Branch currently may not pose as great a threat to Town
Branch as do the urban branches.
great deal of undeveloped, well-vegetated land in south Fayetteville
has kept Town Branch relatively clean. However, as the university
and the city rapidly grow, new parking lots and roofs prevent water
from soaking in where it falls and the threat of downstream flooding
from overflowing sewers, leaking dumpsters, the waste fuel and oil
and other matter deposited by truck and automobile traffic and many
other activities related to an urban population lowers the quality
of water flowing through Town Branch and into the West Fork of the
White River near the Fayetteville industrial park. This means that
the quality of the water in Beaver Lake declines as well.
in city and university policy must occur if this problem is to be
addressed. No single individual or agency is to blame for the problem.
Everyone who works or lives in or visits the city must share the
blame and a change in public mindset must occur for the situation
storm-water runoff, reducing pollution, and protecting wetland and
timber all must be addressed as a unit.
quality of life that has attracted people to Northwest Arkansas
is lowered every day as land is cleared and paved and small houses
on tree-lined streets and prairie grassland that previously mostly
had served as pasture or informal but irreplaceable sanctuary for
birds and wildlife are replaced by parking lots and large apartment
buildings and other facilities that prevent rainwater from soaking
in where it falls. The cleansing effect of moist-soil prairies and
isolated swamps such as one west of Razorback Road and between Sixth
Street and the state Revenue Office is rapidly being lost.
the university overtly seeks to increase its enrollment by 25 percent
over the coming decade, various developers work to acquire and develop
land throughout the Town Branch watershed. A drastic increase in
population, particularly on the south slope of the campus itself
and further south along Town Branch will radically alter the area.
city must begin to take responsibility for development in such watersheds.
It cannot rely on federal wetland and storm-water rules to protect
its residents. A program of education must be developed to make
voluntary compliance with the INTENT of such laws occur. And city
rules must take the federal guidelines a step further.
university must utilize the expertise of its own faculty and staff
to make sure that the intellectual center of the state does not
become known as the environmental-degradation center of the state.
The university stands not only on a significant portion of the headwater
of the White River but also sends water from the north side of its
campus to the Illinois River watershed, eventually into Oklahoma
and into the Arkansas River and back into Arkansas.
some spots on the university campus, two drops of rain can fall
inches apart and one may flow through the White River and the other
through the Illinois and Arkansas River and finally mingle where
those two rivers join in several places near Big Island in the edge
of the Mississippi River.
good start for the university and the city would be to make a pact
to minimize the destructive effect of development in the Town Branch
watershed. Don't ask the U.S. Corps of Engineers for a permit to
dredge and fill stream beds or wetland areas. Voluntarily comply
with the spirit and the letter of the law. Protect the watershed
not only for the benefit of Beaver Lake but also for generations
of youngsters growing up in the Town Branch watershed. No one in
Fayetteville should have to drive to the Buffalo River watershed
to see what an Ozark stream is all about. Let's begin to take pride
in the ones right in our back yards and protect them.