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Hot springs village
09/03/2003
HSV joins in Middle Fork water study
by: Hank Deutsch, Staff Writer

The HSV POA Board of Directors in July began the formal process of joining an unprecedented four year federal and state agencies study of the water flow and water quality characteristics of the Middle Fork of the Saline River. The study was proposed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The agency has provided hydrologic data and analysis in Arkansas since 1920.

The USGS, in cooperation with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, established the first water flow gauge at the Vance Road Bridge over a year ago to begin site specific water flow documentation of the Middle Fork. The "Water-Quality Assessment of the Middle Fork of the Saline River, Central Arkansas" is a proposed cooperative study, which will monitor stream flows and water quality in the Middle Fork. The multi-agency study will examine nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) dynamics and compare nutrient loads from the upper and mid sections of the river at Vance Bridge. The study will also examine fecal coliform (E. coli), water temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, nitrogen, phosphorus and other related water quality measurements.

The USGS will install stream flow gauging stations on the upper Middle Fork upstream of Brushy Creek and on Brushy Creek just upstream from the confluence with the Middle Fork. The USGS will collect data for three years followed by an USGS Water Resources Investigations Report assessing the water quality of the Middle Fork. The agency will report it's annual findings and data will be available on the USGS Arkansas District web site (http://ar.water.usgs.gov). Water quality will be collected monthly at various cross section sampling stations to get an accurate sample of the entire study area. The samples will analyze for a wide-variety of water quality measurements at the USGS National Water Quality Laboratory in Denver, Colorado and the USGS sediment laboratory in Rolla, Missouri. The technical and scientific study will use the latest technology and statistical analysis. The proposed USGS budget for the FY 2003 till 2006 study is $309,000 which includes the costs of the two new gauging stations installation, operation and maintenance, the collection and analysis and assessment and report of data. Dave Johnston, general manager of the HSV POA, at the July special meeting of the Board said the Board approved $20,000 for the first year and $20,000 for the second year, subject to the Board approval. Mark deLinde and Hurlon Ray of Owensville, both leaders of the Concerned Citizens of the Upper Middle Fork praised the proposed study. They said they will strongly support it and believe that it will confirm their long standing beliefs concerning the poor condition of the Middle Fork and it's reduced water flow and water quality due to the Village's use of the river. Both have high praise of John Terry, district chief for the USGS in Little Rock, because of his leadership in bringing together the Village and a number of state and federal agencies to fund and participate in this unprecedented study.

Terry said that the agency was proud of the cooperation between the Village, state and federal agencies. He said the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Arkansas Soil and Water Conservation Commission together with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management are participating in the funding and coordination of the study. Terry said he was very happy with the cooperation and support from Dave Johnston, the general manager of the HSV POA. He said that he hopes to have the two new water flow gauging stations and the water quality monitor at Vance Bridge installed by the end of September.

The Village POA has recently increased it's involvement in attempting to resolve water related issues by forming the Lakes and Water Management Committee, cooperating in the formation of the Saline County water district and making numerous presentations regarding the Village's use of water both within and outside the Village. There are other studies that have been done or in progress on the Middle Fork. Currently there is a graduate research study in its final stages conducted by Arkansas State University and funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The study includes field studies on the status and biology of the mussels of some of the upper forks of the principal rivers of the Ouachita and Saline River watersheds including the Middle Fork of the Saline River.

Two previous studies were conducted that concerned the Middle Fork River. In 1996 the HSV Board authorized a study, "Raw Water Sources of Supply" which recommended the POA Board acquire water from Lake Ouachita for Village use. The report commonly termed the "Latin Report" was named after the POA Board member Oscar B. Latin who authored the report. A second study was authorized by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and done in 2001by Layher BioLogics RTEC, Inc., "Determination of Instream Flow Recommendations for the Middle Fork Saline River..," commonly called the "Layher Report."