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Water Intake Project - Cove Creek Recreation Area

 February 2011

Approximately nine years ago a Cove Creek water intake permit and water allotment was granted for Lonoke/White Public Water Authority (LWPWA). It would serve some 11 communities to the south. The permit was for a vertical shaft drilled down from the processing site, then to a horizontal drilling into the lake for a single level water intake. Recent requirements of the Arkansas Department of Health call for multilevel intakes to withdraw better quality water at a level 10-15 feet below the variable surface level.

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Dear Friend,

Activities affecting the lake seem to rise and fall almost as often and unpredictably as the lake level itself. Save Greers Ferry Lake, Inc. Directors hope that everyone who benefits from this extraordinary resource (writer's evaluation) will take note of changes taking place and make every effort to insure that protection of the lake water quality and natural shoreline are always prime considerations.  Anyone who has even heard of Greers Ferry Lake is very likely a beneficiary of the lake in some manner!

 

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has conducted water quality studies on Greers Ferry Lake. Reports can be found under this link.

Their mission is to protect and enhance the water quality of the State of Arkansas in a manner consistent with the economic well being of all Arkansans. The US Geological Survey is conducting a study of water quality for Community Water System. The purpose of the system is to increase understanding of the hydrology and water quality in the area of Community Water Systems' water intake. Data collected will indicate water resource conditions and record water conditions over time. Water quality samples will be taken six times annually at three locations. Sample results will track issues such as relatively high iron, manganese and turbidity and assist in better water resource management. The project cost estimate for October 2009 through September 2010 was $54,000. The project is funded by Community Water Systems.

 

To comply, LWPWA was proposing up to eight, above ground, 42 inch diameter intake lines run from the processing site into the lake. These would be about one mile east of the Cove Creek campground and boat launch sites. SGFL, Inc discussed this proposal with LWPWA and CWS and stated our desire that the lines be buried from the processing site down into the lake. SGFL further requests that the screened intakes rising from the buried lines be limited to a maximum elevation of 450' msl. This would only allow exposure of a screened intake when the lake level was at an uncommon 10' or more below normal pool level (safety and aesthetic factors). There would be a 300' restricted buffer zone around the water intakes. Final approval for modification of the original permit would have to be obtained from the US Army Corps of Engineers. SGFL will follow further engineering proposals submitted by LWPWA to the Corps of Engineers.

 

Greatly expanding gas well drilling activity has created increased concern over possible harmful effects to lake water quality and shoreline environment. Factors include proximity to the lake and chemicals used in drilling. The Corps of Engineers has only “surface authority” for government property and can restrict drilling activity locations with respect to structures, developments, and within the lake. The US Bureau of Land Management controls mineral rights. Neither the Corps, nor BLM, or other regulating agency has any restrictions against drilling UNDER the lake. Lines currently exist within a tenth of a mile from the lake. No information on under lake drilling was available. General statements were made that drilling was “so deep” that it could never affect any water supply. Arkansans for Gas Drilling Accountability has requested inspection of well casings and a moratorium on injection well permits until possible effects of numerous area earthquakes can be determined.

 

Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission reports strongly imply that new regulations require disclosure of all chemicals used in drilling operations. A less noted line in the regulation states that gas companies may withhold reporting of “proprietary” chemicals used. This, apparently, could include any chemical of the gas company's choosing, thus voiding ANY disclosure requirement. Listing of ALL chemicals used is necessary in order to make initial baseline studies and to further test for pollution. Please insist that this requirement be included! Already, “Caution-Poison Gas” signs are being posted at well sites. What effect will these have on tourism and retiree and vacation home interests?

Finally, the reasons for thorough study and regulatory action BEFORE permitting large scale drilling operations are becoming apparent. Investigation of complaints of constant irritating noise and vibrations from gas compressors revealed that Arkansas has no pertinent noise regulations. The gas companies hint at possible solutions months from now, but do not offer to cease operation until the problems are solved! SGFL, Inc urges you to join us in petitioning your legislators, AR Oil & Gas Commission, and all environmental and regulatory agencies for stricter and enforceable rules to protect our water quality, environment (air, soil & water), and natural shoreline; all of which make this area a GREAT place to live!!

See the SGFL Resource page for names and addresses to contact with petitions or questions.

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

We contribute to the Greers Ferry Lake  Annual Lakeshore Cleanup each September.