Sunday, November 25, 2007

Just Another Bunch of Bureaucrats?

The Multi-basin Regional Water Council is a newly formed organization of more than 20 water-related organizations in this region, which includes contiguous areas of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, encompassing at least a half-dozen watersheds. It is meant to help the organizations cooperate in "promoting common planning and focused action; providing information-exchange and common decision-making tools; and raising public awareness of their efforts, objectives, and achievements."

A survey of the member organizations identified some of the common threats to water quality in Northwest Arkansas: uncontrolled development; stormwater and urban runoff; cost of wastewater treatment; and changing the public attitude toward environmental protection. Those are a good start, but the omission of the obvious effects of land application of 1.2 million tons chicken litter without any meaningful nutrient management plan would seem to reduce their credibility in "changing the public attitude toward environmental protection."

The concept of a regional approach to protecting water quality could be a good development. Pretending that agricultural non-point pollution doesn't exist or is not a serious water quality problem might be politically popular with the chicken corporations, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Farm Bureau, but the only public attitude that approach will change is the one toward the value of a Multi-basin Regional Water Council that fronts for power by protecting the financial profits of polluters.

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