Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center -- Arkansas
Beaver Lake Water Quantity and Quality
Short Title: Beaver Lake Water Quality
Project Chief: Dennis Evans
Cooperator: Beaver Water District
Project Time Frame: 2000 - present
Beaver Lake, completed in 1963, is located in northwestern Arkansas and receives a majority of its water from three tributaries of the White River (White River, Middle Fork White River, and West Fork White River), Richland Creek, and War Eagle Creek. The drainage area of Beaver Lake is 3,087 km2; with a lake surface area of 11,420 hectares, and contains 2.04x109 m3 of water at normal pool elevation. The Beaver Lake watershed was selected as the number one priority watershed in Arkansas' Unified Watershed Assessments and Restoration Priorities report. This watershed was selected as the number one priority because it contains a state extraordinary water resource, an imperiled aquatic species, supplies drinking water to a population of more than 250,000, is a state impaired water body, and is an interstate "waters of concern". Beaver Lake serves as the source-water supply for over 281,000 customers in northwestern Arkansas.
A water-quality monitoring program at numerous tributary inflows and lake sites has been ongoing to construct a data record for further water-quality assessment, trend analysis, and water-quality modeling of Beaver Lake. Water-quality samples are collected at stream sites on three tributaries to Beaver Lake: White River east of Fayetteville; Richland Creek near Goshen; and War Eagle Creek near Hindsville. Samples also are collected at six lake sites along the downstream gradient in Beaver Lake: White River at Goshen; Beaver Lake near Sonora; Beaver Lake near Lowell; Beaver Lake near Rogers; Beaver Lake near Eureka Springs, White River Upstream from War Eagle Creek near Springdale and below Beaver Lake Dam near Eureka Springs. Water-quality sampling frequencies vary from approximately monthly, bi-monthly, and during selected high-flow storm events at the tributary sites. Water samples are analyzed for concentrations or levels of pathogenic bacterial indicators, turbidity, alkalinity, nutrients, major ions, total iron and manganese, and suspended sediment. Lake water-column profiles of field parameters (water temperature, dissolved-oxygen concentration, pH, and specific conductance) in addition to Secchi disc transparency, phytoplankton and algal biomass as chlorophyll a are also conducted. The USGS operates streamflow gages in cooperation with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, and Beaver Water District on the three tributaries and on the White River below Beaver Lake Dam.