Arkansas Water Quality Policy
Arkansas, the Natural State, is often portrayed as a state with abundant water resources. However, the state has its share of polluted waterways, diminished aquifer levels and water access concerns. The Division of Agriculture's Public Policy Center promotes the understanding of federal and state water policy issues through research, community outreach and public education.
What is water quality? The term "water quality" can mean different things to different people. The most widely used definition is that water quality is "the chemical, physical and biological characteristics of water, usually in respect to its suitability for a designated use."
Water has many uses, such as for recreation, drinking, fisheries, agriculture and industry. Each of these uses have been assigned chemical, physical and biological standards necessary to support the use. For example, standards are higher for drinking water than agriculture or industry use.
Current Water Issues
- Arkansas Water Plan
Arkansas' water plan, a document that guides state policy on water conservation, development and protection, was updated in December 2014 after more than a year of public meetings and review overseen by the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission. Recommendations from the recent update will go before the governor and a legislative review committee before any of them can be turned into new procedures or rules. For more information on the state water plan, visit www.arwaterplan.arkansas.gov.
- Nonpoint Source Pollution Management Plan
Excessive sediment, nutrients and toxic metals prevent many Arkansas waterways from supporting aquatic life or other intended uses. The Public Policy Center has partnered with the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission to produce the 2011-2016 Nonpoint Source Pollution Management Plan, which discusses 10 contaminated waterways and action steps that watershed groups or industries can take to reduce pollution levels. The NPS plan can be found below. Additional watershed information can be found at http://www.arkansaswater.org/.
Arkansas' Impaired Waterbodies
Every two years, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality creates a list of rivers and lakes that have been tested and found to not meet water quality standards for their intended use (i.e., not enough oxygen to support fish life). This list, known as the 303(d) list, is submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency. The information gives state and federal agencies, as well as interested residents, a better understanding of the health of Arkansas' waterways and also a way to measure the impact of water quality activities and projects. The 2014 list is currently under review by the EPA.
AR Water Learning Library
- AR Water Newsletter
- Priority Watersheds for Nonpoint Source Pollution in Arkansas
- Bayou Bartholomew Watershed
- Beaver Reservoir - Upper White River Watershed
- Cache River Watershed
- Illinois River Watershed
- Lake Conway - Point Remove Watershed
- L'anguille River Watershed
- Lower Ouachita - Smackover Watershed
- Poteau River Watershed
- Strawberry River Watershed
- Upper Saline River Watershed
Click here for a map of priority watersheds.
- Arkansas Water Primer Series
- Other Water Related Materials
- Water Law and Policy Conference Presentations
Nov. 8, 2012 Water; The Choices
Arkansas Water Plan by Edward Swaim, Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, Water Resources Division Manager.
Chesapeake Bay TMDL Litigation by Susan Bodine, a partner in Barnes & Thornburg LLP's Washington, D.C., office.
Fracking and Deep Injection Wells in Arkansas; State of the State by Shane Khoury, deputy director/general counsel, Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission and Joseph Dellapenna Professor of Law, Villanova University School of Law
Invasive Species by Dr. Raghu Sathyamurthy, associate professor-entomology, University of Arkansas.
Numeric Nutrient Criteria Florida and Beyond – by Susan Bodine, a partner in Barnes & Thornburg LLP's Washington, D.C., office
Infrastructure Life Cycle by Graham Rich, Chief Executive Officer, Central Arkansas Water.
Instream Flows by Dr. Dan Magoulick, professor of biology, University of Arkansas.
An Update on Union County; A Success Story; Water Policy After Sparta by Robert Reynolds, president of the Union County Water Conservation Board.
Gulf Hypoxia and the Mississippi River Basin Initiative, Its Footprint and a Big Picture/Arkansas Perspective by Mike Sullivan, Arkansas state conservationist for the Natural Resource Conservation Service.
Waterway Navigability After the Montana Court Decision by Ken Gould, professor William H. Bowen School of Law.
Modeling Data and the Realities of Using the Information as a Policy Tool by Dr. Andrew Sharpley, professor, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
- State and Federal Policies