Watershed Management

Watershed Management

The Watershed Management Program conducts annual fisheries and water quality assessments on both surface water reservoirs and their watersheds. The reservoirs are used to supply source water to the two (2) drinking water treatment facilities. Fluctuations in fish, algae, and macro-invertebrate populations and community structures can reflect shifts in water quality. Monitoring the overall fisheries and water quality of the two (2) raw water reservoirs emphasizes the Fort Smith Utility Department’s dedication to ensure quality drinking water in the quantity demanded by the residents of Fort Smith and the surrounding communities.

Aquatic macro-invertebrate populations are evaluated through the use of watershed-specific indices. Indices are evaluated using trend analysis to follow changes in structure, abundance, and condition of target fish and macro-invertebrate populations. Algae assessments are done weekly to monitor algal blooms that may affect the taste and odor of treated water.

Why should watersheds matter to me?


of Earth is Covered in Water


of Earth's Water is Salt Water


of Earth's Water is Fresh Water

Without proper watershed management, communities across the nation are experiencing similar problems, including drinking water contamination, increased flooding, and a loss of natural areas. Since the beginning of time, a safe and dependable source of water has been a major factor in where people settled. Currently, humans depend on wells, springs, reservoirs, lakes, streams, and rivers for our ever-expanding need for water. Once a water source is located, we usually do not question its safety and dependability. If the drinking water looks good, tastes good, and smells good, we assume it is safe to drink. Progress, however, has not left water in its natural state.

In the last century, both population and business activity have exploded, and there is no more freshwater today than there was a million years ago.

Industry, agriculture, and the growth of cities have all contributed to greater use and greater contamination of water sources. Many places in this country face a critical water shortage while the quality of their water is at risk. Until recently, public water systems have relied on testing and treatment to provide safe drinking water.

The passage of the Safe Drinking Water Act brings a new focus on prevention and protection. Source water protection is the first line in preventing drinking water contamination and the cornerstone of efforts to save future costs in treatment and possible replacement of local water supplies.

Safe drinking water is essential to a community’s quality of life and continued economic growth. Yet, citizens may not always be aware of safe drinking water issues in their community and may not realize what needs to be done to protect drinking water and keep it safe for their families and businesses.

Drinking water supplies across the country are being contaminated daily by common activities, such as pouring motor oil and household chemicals down drains, using too much pesticides and fertilizers, and littering streets with refuse that will eventually runoff into rivers and streams. When water supplies are not safe, the community’s health – especially of the young, the old, and the sick – is jeopardized.

In addition, communities may experience a loss of tax revenues from real estate and new jobs as businesses refuse to locate to or remain in communities with known or suspected water contamination problems.

Protecting drinking water sources is the first line of defense in ensuring safe drinking water. If communities are aware of their drinking water sources and potential threats to these sources and their watersheds, they can take steps to keep the sources safe and improve their local environment. There is something everyone – from retirees to school kids to individuals in their homes – can do to help.

Have questions or want additional information?

Contact the Watershed Management program by submitting a contact form!