Leader Blues

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

TOP STORY>> Runoff clouds Cabot pond

IN SHORT>> Visitors complain that runoff from the construction of a nearby subdivision has polluted the small pond and fewer people are fishing there as a result.

Leader staff writer

A fishing pond in a Cabot park popular with old and young alike ever since Arkansas Game and Fish Commission started stocking it more than three years ago has become dirty and murky and the number of people who use it is declining.
The problem appears to have been caused by the construction of a subdivision nearby.

A biologist with Arkansas Game and Fish who watches over about 20 ponds in urban areas said he had not been alerted to any problem with the five-acre pond off Campground Road near Kerr Station Road.

It might be turbid now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it can’t be stocked with trout on Dec. 17 as scheduled, said Clifton Jackson, urban family and community fish biologist.

“Trout are kind of a visual fish, so the less turbid the better,” he said.

But he added that “turbid is subjective.” So whether or not the water is really muddy could be a matter of perception.
Jimmy Barnett, the aquatic resources education coordinator who convinced the city council to buy the pond so Game and Fish could stock it, said he doesn’t think there is a real problem. Barnett lives in Cabot near the pond.

“The ditch that goes through that pond drains half of Cabot,” he said. “As soon as it rains again, it will clear up.”

But city officials and at least one patron say they are fishes in the pond most Sundays, told The Leader on Monday that there are usually 15-20 people at the pond when he is there.

But since the water turned muddy-brown, those numbers have declined and he is concerned that the pond won’t be fit for stocking with trout in December.

Gail Mainard, Cabot city engineer, said Parks and Recreation Director Carroll Astin called him to investigate about four weeks ago and the pond is definitely muddy.

“It’s silt in a state of suspension that has gotten past the silt fences and there hasn’t been enough rain to wash it out,” Mainard said.

An inspector with the water division of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality made a routine inspection of the new subdivision before Mainard was called.

The inspector said all he felt comfortable with revealing was that the developer violated ADEQ regulations by pumping water from a low spot in Nottingham subdivision into the ditch that feeds the pond.

Doug Szenher, spokesman for ADEQ, said it usually takes months for negative results from an inspection to result in any sort of punitive action by the department.

He also said that such action would not necessarily be mitigated by any corrective action the developer might take.

Adam Whitlow, of Lemons Engineering, the engineer for the subdivision owned by Johnny Hankins, said the contractor doing the dirt work has corrected the problem by filtering the water through bales of straw before pumping it into the ditch. Silt fences around the property also are better maintained now, he said.

All the dirt work in the 43-lot subdivision should be completed within a month, he said.

The street should be paved within a week.

Whitlow said he believes the muddy water in the pond was caused for the most part by the fine dust that covered everything in Cabot until a five-inch rain about two weeks ago, not the disturbed earth in the subdivision.

That dust washed off and some of it ran into the pit in the subdivision that was emptied indirectly into the pond, he said.