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USGS Scientist Explains Beaver Lake Model
By: Scott F. Davis

Fri, January 16, 2004
Presentation simulates toxic spill, striped bass habitat
LOWELL -- Beaver Water District board members on Thursday watched a video monitor simulate the way a toxic spill would likely disperse throughout the lake.

They also watched a similar graphic presentation show the parts of Beaver Lake most likely to provide a healthy habitat for striped bass.

Reed Green of the U.S. Geological Survey demonstrated different applications of a model, which is being fine-tuned, for Beaver Lake. Reed said district funding helped pay for the research in 2001 and 2002 needed to calibrate the model.

USGS has been collecting stream flow and water quality data continually in Arkansas since the late 1920s. USGS is part of the U.S. Department of Interior and better known for its mapping, he said.

District funding also subsidizes stream flow and water quality monitoring sites, which provide data for the model, he said. The district provides about 22 percent of the $313,000 that USGS will spend in 2004 to study the Beaver Lake watershed, he said.

"USGS has been a good partner. We view this as a useful tool to better understand the complex issues of Beaver Lake," said Alan Fortenberry, chief executive officer of the district.

Green said Arkansas Game and Fish Commission officials were particularly interested in the modeling scenario showing the parts of the lake most likely to support fish habitat. He said the model showed what the fishing guides have been saying all along -- late in the summer, striper bass are most likely to be found near the dam because the water is cooler and contains more oxygen than other parts of the lake, he said.

The stripers in Bull Shoals and Norfork reservoirs face a more hostile environment during the summer than the stripers in Beaver Lake.

The Arkansas Department of Health and the water district have used the model to plan for the best way to react in case of a toxic spill, he said.

More useful for the district, the lake model compiles data from the past two years to predict temperature, dissolved oxygen, phosphates, nitrates and algae growth at different depths and in different locations along the lake throughout the year.

Green also showed animated presentations of the changes in each of these parameters over the past two years. He explained that water quality improves closer to the dam. The district's intake is in the "transitional" part of the reservoir, where its "not really true lake or river," he explained.

One of the drawbacks to the model is it assumes the water quality is the same throughout each lateral section of the lake. Despite this limitation, the model offers a helpful tool, he said.

"The main objective is to get a good handle on nutrients and algae growth," Green said. "Hopefully, we can collect more data and look at trends."
┬ęThe Morning News /NWAonline.net 2002
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