Leader Blues

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

FROM THE PUBLISHER>> Committee must not let Deltic dirty our water

BY GARRICK FELDMAN
Publisher

Rep. Will Bond, the Jacksonville Democrat who is chairman of the House Committee on City, County and Local Affairs, opens hearings today on a brazen attempt by developers to muddy our drinking water while they would build $1 million mansions in the Lake Maumelle watershed.

The lake is the main water source for central Arkansas, but developers like Deltic Timber would pollute the water with rows of McMansions and great lakeview vistas, leaving the rest of us with ever diminishing options for clean water.

Bond, who has been one of the few bright lights during this grim legislative session, will give the developers a fair hearing, but there’s no reason to roll out the red carpet for Deltic and their ilk, whose corporate irresponsibility shows contempt for the people of Arkansas.

Central Arkansas Water, the umbrella group charged with meeting the long-term water needs of the area, has tangled with Deltic for months over who should control the area near the lake.

Deltic has taken full-page advertisements in the state daily, but those ads will fool only the most gullible. Deltic claims it believes in clean water and could control pollution, but the company is just muddying the waters with its expensive public relations campaign and reliance on junk science.

A national consultant group, which has studied the issue with the help of scientists and engineers, has backed Central Arkansas Water, which has unanimously opposed Deltic’s power grab.

Deltic has seduced the state Senate into taking away CAW’s right to control development in the watershed.

Deltic wants the House to do the same, but central Arkansas legislators are almost unanimous in their opposition to development because of the pollution it would cause.

The House must hold the line against development in the watershed for the greater good of central Arkansas.

The fear is that Deltic has bought off legislators from outside central Arkansas, which is seldom popular with rural legislators, especially since many of them lost their school districts in consolidation, thanks in no small part to lawmakers from around here.
Deltic is hoping to win over the House sooner or later. But even if it achieves victory during this session or two years from now, Deltic faces a monumental court fight as it seeks to pollute Lake Maumelle.

If the Legislature fails us, surely the courts will restore common sense on this issue and tell Deltic to go build homes somewhere else. We’d offer a toast to that with a tall glass of delicious Arkansas water.