Minimum Water Flow Implemented -

July, 2013: The long awaited minimum water flow has arrived!! After years of effort by many folks, and an Act of Congress (literally), no longer will the water flows in White River (and Norfork River) be "dead low" (where the water volume is so little that it can warm up and endanger the trout). So, we at Newlands thank you for your efforts. And, most importantly, the trout thank all they have to worry about now is "dodging your hooks". The picture on the left shows "dead low" water (with moss-beds exposed to the sun). The right picture shows "minimum flow" (with moss-beds protected, and productive).

The "plain and simple" definition...

of MINIMUM WATER FLOW is the need to keep the water cold so the trout don't die. Trout "must" have cold water to survive. With all the generators shut down, there is not enough cold water coming through to stay cold. With the "minimum water flow" there would be a little more (about 6-12 inches more) cold water coming through--enough to keep the trout alive. This has been quite a long, drawn out process. Below, we have tried to categorize the steps chronologically - most recent on top:

Current Status, 2010 Sept (Warning, this gets a little complicated) - Bull Shoals has been approved for minimum flow funding but the reallocation of property on the Bull Shoals Lake of the water is going to take about 4-5 years, or so. The Corps also must come up with a flow system as the siphoning technique will not work on Bull Shoals Dam. The flow will be run through one of the turbines...the programming just has to be re-written. Also, SWPA (SouthWest Power Administration) must satisfy outstanding debt owed to Empire Electric (by South West Power) before any move can be made on Bull Shoals.

SWPA is supposed to pay Empire district electric some $20+ million (maybe 27 million). Congressman Boozman and Berry have encouraged SWPA to pay Empire in one lump sum. According to "legal" legislation, they have 5 years to spread out payments but other "encouragement" has prompted a single sum payment this month. IF that occurs, AGFC will then need to meet all the criteria placed by the COE for facility reallocations on the Bull Shoals lake side. AGFC in the Spring passed a rule to forward a large portion of oil and gas proceeds to pay for the minimum flow expenses. The BS Lake side facility relocation expenses are around $12 million if memory holds true.

Utility Companies run up the bill...


These comments are derived from concerned citizens who have the economic condition of our country at heart and in no way want to unnecessarily and irresponsibly spend taxpayer dollars. These same citizens realize the long term importance of the Minimum Flow project to one of our great natural resources and know the project is imperative to the long-term health of the White River System.

►Minimum Flow will positively impact the economy and natural resources for the United States and the state of Arkansas by expanding the already flourishing $160 million dollar tourism industry in Arkansas.

►Minimum Flow will improve dissolved oxygen in the river and water temperatures for downstream trout fisheries, increase wetted perimeters creating improved growth of aquatic plants, habitat, and food supply, and improve trout reproduction, while returning the river to a more natural state.

►The economic benefits according to the Corps of Engineers are a 77 to 1 cost to benefit ratio, irrefutably proving the benefits of the Minimum Flow project.



EMPIRE DISTRICT ELECTRICarespecial relationship between Southwest Power Administration and some division of the Corps of Engineers?

►The established drought of record occurred in 1928 prior to the construction of any federal dam on the White River system. Southwest Power Administration utilized this 1928 drought of record to simulate energy and capacity losses for both lakes. Since the opening of the Bull Shoals and Norfork Dams when have droughts and floods occurred? Would it be more appropriate to use an average of these scenarios to calculate the energy and capacity losses rather than the use of worstpork spending to pay off crying, profitable power companies because they are losing some control of how water is released from these hydroelectric dams leaving the taxpayers to pay $87 million to a supposed federal power company, Southwest Power Administration, and $34 million to a privately owned "for profit" power company, Empire District Electric? It is ludicrous for the taxpayers to pay either of these greedy power companies anything.

Minimum Flow Project: SWPA estimates $10M cost...

By FRANK WALLIS Bulletin Staff Writer. If a proposal to enlarge fish habitat by releasing more water from five dams on the White River System is adopted by Congress next year it could cost the Southwestern Power Administration (SWPA) an estimated $10 million a year in a worst-case scenario. Bethel Herrold, SWPA lead hydraulic engineer, shared the estimate during questioning in a public forum Thursday attended mostly by supporters of the White River Minimum Flow Project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was authorized by Congress in 1999 to study a proposal to reallocate water in the five Corps dams on the White River System in Arkansas. The amount under study includes: 1.5 feet in Beaver Lake; 2 feet in Table Rock Lake; 3.5 feet in Norfork Lake; 5 feet in Bull Shoals Lake; and 3 feet in Greers Ferry Lake. The Congressional directive said the new allocation and minimum flows would occur only if a study shows that it could be done in a way that "is technically sound, environmentally acceptable and economically justified." SWPA, a division of the U.S. Department of Energy, sells electricity from 24 SWPA-managed hydroelectric stations to cities and electric cooperatives in six states who in turn retail to some 7 million consumers. Forum participants were quick to do the math -- $1.25 per customer, per year. Fishing guide John Gulley of Norfork equated the sum to "half a pack of cigarettes." Herrold said while the cost starts at $10 million, it will increase regularly as SWPA incurs the upgrading and equipment-replacement costs. He said none of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' proposals achieving minimum flow is beneficial to SWPA. He urged the group to learn as much as possible about the issue and express an opinion. Representatives from the two major stakeholders in the project attended -- Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the U.S. Department of Energy's Southwestern Power Administration (SWPA). Michael Biggs, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project manager for the White River Minimum Flows Study, also participated. Friends of the North Fork and White Rivers sponsored the event at Arkansas State University Mountain Home. Mike Armstrong, fisheries biologist with Arkansas G&FC, said times have changed since Congress approved construction of the dams as flood-control and hydroelectric tools. "I believe both of those objectives have been fulfilled," said Armstrong. He said another Department of Energy division, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, has recognized the need for minimum flow and ordered Entergy Corp. to supply minimum flow from Remmel Dam on Lake Catherine in Garland County. Armstrong declared the outcome of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer's Minimum Flow Project will be a political one. "If you fail to become involved in the politics of this, you are being disingenuous to the project," he said. Biggs said new directives in November from Corps headquarters in Washington will delay the final draft of the study until late May, which will begin a 60-day public comment period on the proposal. Friday, December 19, 2003 Bax Bul.

Has passed Congress, but not yet funded....

White River Outfitters Continue Working for Minimum Flow

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Quote from Arkansas Congressman Marion Berry...

regarding minimum flow (Nov'05--):

"Improving Trout Fishing Along the White River: After years of work to improve trout fishing opportunities along the White River in North Central Arkansas, Congressman John Boozman (AR-03) and I, were able to secure language in the Fiscal Year 2006 Energy and Water Appropriations bill that directs the Army Corps of Engineers to release minimum flows on the White River at Bull Shoals and Norfolk Lakes and construct a fish hatchery in the tailwaters at Beaver Dam. This victory puts an end to decades of debate over chronic low water levels that limit trout growth and survival below Bull Shoals and Norfork dams. The changes to the water flow will improve trout habitat without increasing rates for electric customers who rely on hydropower produced at the dams".

A good description from...

Another explanation of minimum water flow...

You can send an e-mail or letter to the Corp of Engineers at:

Corp of Engineers - White River Minimum Flow Project
c/o Mike Rogers,  Planning, Environmental and Regulatory Division
P.O. Box 867
Little Rock, AR 72203-0867

E-Mail:  minimum.flow.project(at)

We also ask you write your U.S. Senator or Congressman 

Please let your voice be heard. Thanks SO MUCH for your support!!!

PS: Most of the above was written by Heather Crunkleton, Minimum Flow Coordinator for The White and North Fork Rivers Outfitters Association.  She has been very instrumental in initiating the minimum flow project as well as keeping it moving toward, hopefully, a successful conclusion.  Heather can be reached at :

Rainbow Drive Resort

669 Rainbow Landing Drive

Cotter, AR   72626


You can read more on minimum flow...

at the Corps of Engineers website, and read more at the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission website.

You can sign our petition, if you wish (and we hope you do), electronically here. Thank you for your consideration.

The reaction Forrest Wood...

one of the Arkansas Game & Fish Commissioners, was as follows: minimum.flow.project(at) The mailing address is: White River Minimum Flow Project, c/o Mike Biggs; Planning, Environmental and Regulatory Division, P.O. Box 867, Little Rock, AR 72203-0867.

And read the following letter from Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Director, Scott Henderson, to Arkansas Senator Lincoln concerning the article in Rural Arkansas magazine discussing Minimum Flow issues:

Dear Senator Lincoln:

Enclosed is an article on minimum flow published in the September 2003 issue of Rural Arkansas. We regret that the unnamed author felt compelled to rely on one-sided reporting in order to frighten electric cooperative customers when a more accurate dialogue of the issue would have benefited their readers. As you may be hearing from your constituents on minimum flow, we wanted to present you with this information. The Rural Arkansas article contained several misstatements concerning the minimum flow issue. First, the article stated 15 feet of storage would be reallocated, leading one to believe 15 feet would come from each of the five lakes. The Water Resource Development Act (WRDA) of 1999 and 2000 spread this reallocation out over the five White River Basin lakes: 1.5 feet from Beaver, 2.0 feet from Table Rock. 3.5 feet from Norfork, 5.0 feet from Bull Shoals, and 3.0 feet from Greers Ferry. Second, the article portrayed minimum flow simply as a navigation issue to help trout guides move their boats over the shoals and that the improvement to trout habitat is "theorized." In truth, environmental restoration and mitigation for losses to the warm water White River basin ecosystem drives our interest in restoring minimum flow to this rive.'. Efforts to secure a minimum flow date back to the 1960s and 1970s when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Reservoir Research Center issued minimum flow recommendations for Bull Shoals and Norfork dams as a way to improve the vitality of these tailwater systems. In the 1990s, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission contracted with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to determine optimum minimum flow for improving both trout habitat and boating navigation. The environmental benefits gained from minimum flow have been well documented on TVA reservoirs. TVA manages its lakes for flood control and hydropower and so brings a high degree of experience and expertise to our situation in Arkansas. The minimum flow reallocations specified in WRDA 1999 and 2000 were the result of the TVA contracted studies. In short, our minimum flow recommendations were crafted to balance environmental enhancement and recreation with the other authorized uses of these lakes. Our requested minimum flows are far less than the optimal mitigating flows recommended earlier by the USFWS.

Finally, minimum flows will not only improve trout habitat - they will also produce electricity that will be sold on the grid, not wasted. The article's portrayal of all minimum flows as an unavoidable cost to ratepayers is simply wrong. Moreover, the article's conclusion is based on unsubstantiated statements by unknown employees of a federal agency. Conclusions are being drawn before the facts are even presented and explained. It states that wholesale power contracts will be cut, resulting in rate increases to residential costumers. Electric rates may go up but not because of minimum flow. This prediction is speculative at best and is not supported by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USAGE) study findings. WRDA 1999 and 2000 required the USACE to determine if the reallocations were "technically sound, environmentally acceptable, and economically justified" before implementing any changes. The USACE report expected out this fall evaluates the reallocations using those three criteria as the benchmarks for qualifying .-allocation- The USACE study will present a set of reallocation scenarios on each of the Five in "vidual lakes to determine the benefits and costs to each system. We have followed the progress of the study closely and have maintained an open dialogue with both the Little Rock District Corps of Engineers and Southwestern Power Administration (SPA) as study results have unfolded, ""he study's principal investigators at the USACE have informed us that a "least impact" scenario at each lake can provide our requested minimum flow without any loss to hydropower. This is accomplished by strategically reallocating the authorized storage at each lake in either the flood pool, conservation pool. or both; replacing inefficient house turbines with new units tied to the electrical grid. Accepting a modest loss to minimum flow dependability will be required on Bull Shoals in order to maintain full hydropower capacity. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has, and will continue, to work with the USACE and SPA in the spirit of cooperation to arrive at a minimum flow solution that will not adversely impact rate payers. Far from the catastrophe painted by the Rural Arkansas article, we believe a win-win solution is possible that will benefit all Arkansans both economically and environmentally. Framing the issue as trout anglers vs. ratepayers is inaccurate and counter-productive. Please contact our Director Scott Henderson if you need additional information. Thank you for your interest in this issue of utmost importance to Arkansas' world-class trout fishery.


Scott Henderson,

Director for

Dr. Lester Sitzes, Chair

Forrest L. Wood, Vice-chairman

Mike Freeze

Sheffield Nelson

Sonny Varnell

Freddie Black

Brett Morgan

Arkansas Game and Fish Commissioners

I, Charles Newland, definitely support...

minimum water flow. Granted, it would improve fishing and make it easier to get up and down the river (and what's wrong with that?).

But these are side issues and are overshadowed by the main reason that it would KEEP THE TROUT FROM DYING!!! During my lifetime of being around the White River, this is "the" one single issue that is the most sacred to my soul. But, on the other hand, there are two sides to every story. The following article represents an alternative viewpoint.

The following article appeared in Rural Arkansas:

The price of fish could be going up

And you may end up paying for it through your electric bill. On the upper right-hand comer of the page is a rotating box titled "Key Projects and Issues." Click on the listing for "White River Minimum Flow Study". This will take you to a page with information on the study and give you the opportunity to join the study's mailing list. 'Once you join the mailing list, the Corps will notify you when the draft report will be released, the deadline for submitting comments on the study, where the public meetings will be held and how to submit written comments," Coombes said.

SEPTEMBER 2003 Rural Arkansas Page 13

My (Charles Newland) first reaction to the Rural Ark article was, "...they didn't even mention about the trout kills!!!" What an oversight.

Request for help from Forrest Wood...

October 6, 2003

Dear Friend and Fellow Angler,

Soon the United States Congress will make a very important decision. Your help is needed to ensure that the decision is the right one. The decision deals with the reallocation of water storage in Lakes Beaver, Bull Shoals, Norfork, and Greers Ferry in Arkansas and in Table Rock Lake in Missouri for the purpose of providing adequate water flow for the trout streams below the dams, generally referred to as minimum flow. Presently, the only water that is in these trout streams during non-generation and non-flood periods is the water that leaks through the dams. This is much less water than was originally in these streams and is not adequate to achieve the full potential of the fisheries. From an environmental standpoint, the establishment of a minimum flow would be a step in the right direction to restoring the river to its previous state prior to construction of the dam.

The objective of providing adequate minimum flow is to increase the size of the permanent stream in the tailwaters below the dams. An adequate minimum flow would reduce high water temperatures in the summer that stress or sometimes kill trout by flushing fresher, cold water into the river during low-water intervals. More water would help boaters navigate shallow shoals and provide more wade fishing opportunities for trout anglers. All of these factors add up to an increase in recreational activity on the river system as well as a multitude of environmental benefits. The reallocation of water storage will not adversely affect the lake fisheries and an important point to keep in mind, is that the water required for minimum flow on the White River system will not be wasted; electricity will be produced during these emissions that can be sold on the grid.

With your help minimum flow on the White River system can become a reality. An intensive study, completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will soon be completed and a period, during which public comment will be accepted, will begin. Please join us in making our voices heard by contacting:

Mike Biggs, Project Manager for Minimum Flow
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
700 W. Capitol
PO Box 867
Little Rock, Arkansas 72203-0867
Email: mike.l.biggs(at)

Mike Armstrong, Assistant Chief of the Fisheries Division
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
#2 Natural Resources Drive
Little Rock, Arkansas 72205
Phone: 501-223-6371
Email: marmstrong(at)

Forrest L. Wood
PO Box 99
Flippin, Arkansas 72634
Phone: 870-453-3212
Email: flw(at)

Any efforts or other contacts you can make on behalf of minimum flow will be greatly appreciated by thousands of sportsmen and myself.


Thank you for your support.

Best regards, Forrest L. Wood Founder of Ranger Boats

Friends of North Fork and White Rivers meeting...

with representatives from the Corps of Engineers, SouthWest Power Administration, and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission on December 18, 2003. Below are two newspaper articles about this meeting:

Arkansans urged to speak out on water releases at reservoirs

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