Drought Threatens Main Water Supply for Local Fish Hatchery
The drought in Arkansas is not only causing problems for farmers, but fish hatcheries as well.
“The drought has affected our spring which our main water supply,” says Thomas Laird, Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery Manager.
The Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery in Centerton is struggling to keep their ponds full of water as their water supply starts to dry up.
“The vegetation is growing faster than the water can cover it so it’s growing higher than the water can fill up and that’s just one of the problems,” says Laird. “I have to keep ponds lower than normal, they’re not totally filled up which can hurt production.”
The hatchery which stocks local lakes has 20 ponds, 58 acres of water at several million gallons.
Laird says on average 350 gallons a minute are pumped into these ponds, “Right now we’re averaging probably about 150 so you can see this dry season like a rainfall really impacts a hatchery.”
To offset the drought they have to reuse water.
“We’re reusing water instead of letting water go like in a normal year we do, we’re pumping it from pond to pond and we’re using it two or three times,” says Laird.
The drought is also drying up the hatchery’s budget. They have to use a deep water well to keep the ponds full of water.
“We only use it as a supplemental when we have drought seasons like we are this year, we are using that well currently, we’ve been using it about a month, it costs about $5,000 to $6,000 a month,” explains Laird. “Our total budget we’ve got about two months of pumping and we are actually going to use our total budget for the whole year probably by August we’ll be done, we’re out of money.”
Even though the drought is taking a toll on the hatchery now, the climate change this year had some benefits.
“Because of the warmer spring we had we’ve actually, this is probably going to be a record year on fish production,” adds Laird.
The hatchery is currently looking at moving location with a more reliable water source.