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Vote Puts New Restrictions On Landowners In Lake Maumelle Watershed

LITTLE ROCK, AR -- A controversial issue involving the drinking supply for nearly a half million Central Arkansans came to a vote Tuesday evening. Pulaski County Quorum Court passed new restrictions on landowners living in the Lake Maumelle watershed.
LITTLE ROCK, AR -- A controversial issue involving the drinking supply for nearly a half million Central Arkansans came to a vote Tuesday evening.

Pulaski County Quorum Court passed new restrictions on landowners living in the Lake Maumelle watershed.

"It's absolutely gorgeous," said landowner Chris Dorer as he looked out onto his property on Wye Mountain.

It's the land where he grew up and is now, along with his wife, raising a daughter.

"We have a rock business," he said.  "That's not our main job, but that's something we sell to landscapers and rock masons.

But Dorer's property lies on the Lake Maumelle Watershed -- the drinking water source for 400,000 Central Arkansans.

"Central Arkansas Water's goal is to provide clean, safe water for our customers," said John Tynan with C.A.W.

To protect the lake, C.A.W. will impose new regulations on landowners.

"Really identifying those things are risky for water quality and prohibiting them in the watershed," Tynan said.

But Dorer and other landowners believe the restrictions go too far.

"This would be part of the 'green space' we have to maintain," Dorer said, pointing at a pile of rocks bundled up for sale.  "I wouldn't be able to have the business down here."

Landowners and their advocates point to tests showing Lake Maumelle is one of the cleanest lakes in the country. They say, even watered down restrictions being considered would hurt property values and impede his family's right to chose its own destiny.

But C.A.W. says a proactive approach to protecting the lake is vital.

"The zoning code that we have in front of us strikes a balance," Tynan said.

With the unanimous vote Tuesday, some restrictions, like those on new development, would take effect immediately.  Others would be put off for a year while parties involved work to hammer out details.

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