CONWAY, Ark. (KTHV) - Lake Maumelle is a primary source for drinking water for many Arkansans and Central Arkansas Water is very protective of it for that reason, but there's been an expressed interest in taking advantage of the scenic lake for recreation.
And one of the first activities to be considered is mountain biking.
Central Arkansas Water started a recreation plan earlier this year to figure out what kind of activities they may be able to allow in and around Lake Maumelle, but protecting the water is a top priority.
“We’ve been mountain biking here since the 80’s but we needed some new trail," said Joe Jacobs, Chair of Governor’s Advisory Council on Cycling.
Jacobs is part of the group that hopes to add another trail, the Ouachita Trail, to his list. Taking advantage of the outdoors is something cyclists like Jacobs do on a daily basis
“This is a good old school type of trail, the way we started riding bikes was on old hiking trail and that’s what this is," said Jacobs.
Right now, bicycles aren't allowed, but Central Arkansas Water said that adding recreational activates isn't out of the question.
“You’re just talking about a greater impact on the water shed because there’s going to be more people utilizing the water shed than there are now," said Douglas Shackelford with Central Arkansas Water.
That’s why they’re getting ready to begin a study that will tell them if mountain biking along the trail could at all impact your drinking water.
“With increased usage you can have potential issues where there’s drainage, soil erosion around the lake," said Shackelford.
About 20 miles of the Ouachita Trail is along Lake Maumelle. Part of that section is along what’s called a critical water protection area which is part of the reason this study is necessary.
Central Arkansas Water understands the desire to take advantage of this scenic lake, but keeping your water clean is a top priority.
Meanwhile, Jacobs believes this could add to the growing popularity of cycling he's seen in Central Arkansas.
“The tourism department, we're now labeling ourselves the cycling hub of the south, it’s a big thing now," said Jacobs.
The plans will be presented to Central Arkansas Water this Thursday and they plan to begin the study in 2018 and say it could take up to nine months to a year.