As first reported Thursday on the Arkansas Blog, the Central Arkansas Water Commission has decided not to consider a resolution Monday outlining an agreement by the utility with potential developers in the Lake Maumelle watershed.
Commissioner Jane Dickey has withdrawn the resolution that she presented to the commission for discussion a week ago.
The cancellation makes the Commission’s first order of business the defeat of Deltic Timber’s SB 230 to limit the utility’s condemnation power in the Lake Maumelle watershed. Opponents of the resolution had said debate on a resolution would have created problems in the legislative forum. The bill is to come up again in a House committee next Wednesday
The utility’s news release:
LITTLE ROCK — The Board of Commissioners, Central Arkansas Water (CAW), has cancelled its special meeting scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday, March 21, 2005.
The Board was to consider a resolution regarding the comprehensive watershed management study on Lake Maumelle. The resolution sponsor has withdrawn the resolution from consideration.
Water Commission Chair Eddie Powell said the Board and utility’s focus is on next Wednesday’s hearing before the Arkansas House of Representatives’ Committee on City, County, and Local Affairs, which will take up Senate Bill 230 as a special order of business at 10 a.m. on March 23, 2005.
“We will continue our efforts to defeat Senate Bill 230 and any other legislation that could weaken our ability to protect the watershed of our drinking water supply,” Powell said.
Dickey had been criticized for negotiating on the resolution with representatives of Deltic because her law firm has done work for the company, which manages timberland and has developed Little Rock’s Chenal Valley subdivision. She said she saw no conflict and insisted her interest was in protecting the lake.
Sen. Bob Johnson, whose family owns land in the Maumelle watershed and has wanted to buy more, drove the Deltic legislation out of the Senate with virtually no debate, but it met stiff resistance in the House.
Opponents of the resolution drafted by Dickey said a moratorium could drive up the cost of acquiring the Deltic land. It provided that the utility would work with the company on development plans and didn’t bar a developer from moving forward. The moratorium would have given Deltic more time to build support for a legislative pre-emption of the utility.
Utility executives believe the terrain Deltic wants to develop is too rocky and steep and that even extensive plans for handling runoff proposed by Deltic ultimately couldn’t prevent more pollution of the lake. More pollution means more treatment costs.