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Water report ready for review

After more than two years of research, dozens of public information meetings, and extensive input from technical experts and various water users, the Arkansas Water Plan Update Draft Executive Summary is ready to be reviewed by the public, according to an official with the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission (ANRC).

“The draft can be seen on the Water Plan Update website www.arwaterplan.arkansas.gov,” according to Edward Swaim, the agency’s Water Resources Division manager. Public meetings will soon be scheduled throughout the state during the summer, and comments can also be made by e-mailing them to arkansaswater@cdmsmith.com or mailing them to the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, Attention Edward Swaim, 101 East Capitol Avenue, Suite 350, Little Rock, AR 72201.

Swaim said that after public comments have been received, a Final Executive Summary will be prepared and submitted to the ANRC commissioners in November. Following that, the agency will consider rule-making for implementing the recommendations in the Plan. The finalized Plan will guide many aspects of the Natural State’s underground and surface water use, he pointed out.

The Draft Executive Summary consists of 91 pages. A large section of the document explains the “priority issues,” “recommendations of how to resolve those issues,” and an “implementation” plan that explains how the recommendations will be put into action. Listed below is a summary of the nine priority issues.

· Declining groundwater levels in the alluvial aquifer and the need to move toward sustainable use of the alluvial aquifer.

· Planning for allocation during drought is needed before droughts occur.

· The Statutory definition of excess water should be based on sound science.

· General obligation bonds are needed to finance and refinance the development of water; waste disposal; pollution control, abatement, and prevention; drainage, irrigation, flood control, and wetlands; and aquatic resources projects to serve the citizens of the State of Arkansas.

· Water quality is impacted by nonpoint sources of pollutants and nonpoint source management projects need State funding in addition to federal funding.

· The need for public education is critical for water planning in Arkansas.

· Public water and wastewater infrastructure is failing, and in need of repair and replacement throughout Arkansas.

· Reallocation of water storage in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) reservoirs is needed to increase available water for existing and new uses.

· Tax incentives and credits are needed to encourage the implementation and management of integrated irrigation water conservation practices.

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