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 2018-2023 Nonpoint Source Pollution Management Plan, which discusses threats to 11 priority watersheds and action steps that watershed groups or industries can take to reduce pollution levels. The NPS plan can be found below.
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.
AR Water Learning Library
- AR Water Newsletter
- Priority Watersheds for Nonpoint Source Pollution in Arkansas
Click here for a map of priority watersheds.
- 2017 Nonpoint Source Pollution Stakeholder & Project Review Meeting Presentations
NPS Management Plan Update - Allen Brown, Arkansas Natural Resources Commission
ADEQ Approaches to the Assessment Methodology - Sarah Clem, Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality
Water Use Reporting for Agricultural Irrigation Use in Arkansas - Linda Johnson, FTN Associates
Edge-of-Field Monitoring for Arkansas Discovery Farms - Mike Daniels, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture
Arkansas Soil Health Alliance - Keith Scoggins, Natural Resources Conservation Service
Non-Point Source Pollution Assessment and Management - Greg Phillips, GBMc & Associates
Status of MRBI - Dianne Schlenker, Natural Resources Conservation Service
Natural Resources Conservation Service Updates - Teri Nehls, Natural Resources Conservation Service
Water Quality Monitoring in the Upper Illinois River Watershed and Upper White River Basin - Erin Scott, Arkansas Water Resources Center
Bayou DeView Watershed Monitoring - Dr. Jennifer Bouldin, Arkansas State University
Little River Ditches Watershed Monitoring- Dr. Jennifer Bouldin, Arkansas State University
Strawberry River Watershed Monitoring - Dr. Jennifer Bouldin, Arkansas State University
Cover Crop Education and Demonstration Project for the Bayou Bartholomew Watershed - Trenton Roberts, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture
Boone County Beaver Reservoir Watershed Project - Lisa Widner, Boone County Conservation District
Cross County L’Anguille River Watershed Water Quality Project - LaMar Rolland, Cross County Conservation District
Strawberry River Subwatershed Cost Share - Michelle Ward, Fulton County Conservation District
Hicks Creek-White River Watershed Project - Robert Benedict, Baxter County Conservation District
Strawberry River Improvement Project - Cody Stroud, Sharp County Conservation District
Arkansas Silvicultural Nonpoint Source Project - Arnold Hameister, Arkansas Forestry Commission
White River Bank Restoration and Monitoring Project - Matt Van Eps, Watershed Conservation Resource Center
Improving Water Quality Through Green Infrastructure in the Illinois River Watershed - Nicole Hardiman, Illinois River Watershed Partnership
Connecting NPS Management to Receiving Streams through BMP Education and Demonstration - Colin Massey, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service
White River and Richland Creek Watershed Opportunity Assessment - Melissa Welch, Beaver Watershed Alliance
- State and Federal Policies