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Save Greers Ferry Lake

Greers Ferry Lake Needs Your Help!

Spring of 2008

 April 2008

Dr. David P BakunasFred ClarkBetty Dickey
Sharon FairWalter Fisher, Jr.Carl Garner
Grace GokturkRichard MaysGalil McKenzie
Senator Mary Anne SalmonBarbara SullivanLeonard Uecker

Dear Friend,

Thank you for your past support and contributions to Save Greers Ferry Lake, Inc.’s efforts to protect the clean water and natural shoreline of Greers Ferry Lake. In an attempt to keep lake area residents, vacation homeowners and tourists better informed of developments affecting Greers Ferry Lake, we are reestablishing our website, Lake-related contact information will be included and we sincerely desire your input regarding our efforts, plus any concerns that your may have regarding the future welfare of this increasingly important flood control and power source, regional water supply, and recreational facility.

A succession of heavy rains raised the lake level to a new record of 485.80 feet above mean sea level on April 10th, 2008, with expectations of further increases. This is more than 24’ above the 461.3’ normal pool level. Runoff during high water levels has saturated the lake with debris. Boaters must exercise caution to avoid floating objects and submerged obstacles. A number of camp grounds and boat launches and all swimming areas have been closed. Availability should be verified with the Corps of Engineers Project Manager (501-362-2416). Some roads have been closed and boat passage under certain bridges may be prohibited. Community Water System has seen the nephelometric turbidity unit (ntu) level rise from general summer turbidity of 3.0 ntu to 284.0 ntu, emphasizing the need to protect the watershed. The parallel operation of sand filter and the new membrane filter systems has allowed CWS to maintain high quality production, but the turbidity requires additional chemicals, back washing, and time for settling and filtering. Therefore, the production rate was reduced by nearly half in the sand filter system and slightly in the membrane system. On average, CWS treats approximately 5.8 million gallons of water per day. The Clinton Water System does not use the membrane filter system.

Lake water releases are limited by downstream conditions. Releases must occur above 487’ msl, but only at the rate of additional water coming into the lake. Every attempt will be made to warn the public of rising water.

Natural gas well drilling in the Fayetteville Shale has rapidly expanded throughout this area. Results of the drilling are the clearing of well sites, building access roads and pipelines, road wear from heavy transport of water and sand, and significant water demands. Schools and communities have been approached regarding the drilling of wells on public land. SGFL concerns are limited to watershed damage and water pollution. Monitoring of these effects is primarily the responsibility of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. The capability of ADEQ to monitor these effects is challenged by the wide expanse of the drilling operations. A special session of the legislature was successful in raising the "extraction" taxes at least close to those of adjacent states. Annual state revenue will increase from some $600,000 to $57 million or more. The primary use of the revenue has been designated for road repair, but some of the tax money may help ADEQ increase its inspection capability.

There will be no OFFSHORE ocean boat races on Greers Ferry Lake this year. We lost the battle to prevent the races in 2007, but we appear to have won the war against repeat races. Most of our concerns were verified by the 2007 races. The lack of open water and beaches or high rises for spectator viewing did not allow observation of the event as a race, which was seen more as a random passage of a few noisy boats. Fewer than half of the boats advertised were present. About one tenth of the spectators predicted came for the races, causing disappointed vendors to close early. The Fairfield Bay City Council reported no significant economic gain. After providing the racers with $85,000 in cash and paying many additional expenses, the Tri Cities Chambers of Commerce promoter ended with a $21,885.77 deficit not reported to the public. No money was donated to "Education." Arkansas Game & Fish and the US Army Corps of Engineers did no studies before or after the races to evaluate effects on wildlife or the environment. Race boat noise exceeded the 90 db limit set for the races.

Large, high horsepower boats are becoming more prevalent on the lake. Although a muffled exhaust system is required, noise levels have become more annoying and disruptive. Fishing tournaments have increased to as many as 13 in one 10-week period (March 15 to May 24). Boat motors are in the 100 to 200 hp range in the larger tournaments. The Corps of Engineers has set no noise level restrictions.

The Greers Ferry City Council continues its plans for a city sewer system. The Arkansas Health Department has requested that the discharge from the proposed Greers Ferry Sewage Treatment Plant go into the bottom middle of the Narrows. The closest available land for a sewer plant, in this case, would be along Hwy 110/Shiloh Road. The system would be a low pressure grinder pump system. Homeowner hook-up and system maintenance would be at city expense. Estimated project cost is $10 million. Under the current census, the city would qualify for a 50% USDA grant. An 80% voluntary homeowner hook-up and passage of a 1% city sales tax in November, 2008, are required by funding agencies for the project to go forward.

The 2008 Lake Area Cleanup, initiated by former USCOE Project Engineer, Carl Garner in 1970, will be held on Saturday, September 6. Our thanks to the hardworking volunteers. Recent high water and flooding have greatly increased the amount of lake debris which will require all help possible. Suggestions to encourage greater turnout should be directed to Ross Moore (1-800-490-4357) or the Corps of Engineers (501-362-2416). Following Project Manager, Tommy Parks’ retirement, Win Hargis has been named as his replacement. Also, Col Ed Jackson (501-324-5533) has replaced Col. Waters as the Little Rock USCOE District Commander.

The Corps has issued Regulation 1130-2-52 setting flotation standards for all commercial and resort boat docks within the Little Rock District. The objective is to require encapsulated floatation to replace foam flotation materials that disintegrate and pollute. Private docks and 15 of the 18 Corps Districts already have this requirement.

Save Greers Ferry Lake, Inc. asks for your continued support in protecting the clean water and natural shoreline of Greers Ferry Lake.