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The Arkansas Water Resources Center publishes this e-newsletter each month to highlight research, faculty, news and important events.
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March 2016
Excitement Grows for Annual Water Conference
Mark your calendar for this year’s Annual Water Conference, to be held on July 26-27, 2016 at the Fayetteville Town Center.
 
Inspired by the recent creation of the working group on Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in Arkansas, we’re developing this year’s agenda around HABS and water quality.
 
We’re excited to hear Hans Paerl of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Alan Wilson of Auburn University deliver keynote presentations about the growing occurrence and increasing threats of HABs in freshwater systems (pictured below, left to right, respectively).
 
We’ve also opened a call for presentations to water resource professionals, researchers, source-water utilities and state agencies. If you want to present research or activities related to the following topics, email your prospective titles to erins@uark.edu by Friday, March 18.
  • Nutrient loading
  • Water quality trends
  • Nutrient criteria development
  • HABs in source waters and recreational waters 
Visit our website and stay tuned for more information. If you have any questions, contact Erin Scott at erins@uark.edu.
AWRC Seeks High School Student for Summer Internship
The Arkansas Water Resources Center is looking for a motivated high school student to join us this summer as part of our high school student internship program.
 
The student will have a great opportunity to be involved in a variety of water-quality and Center-related activities. From helping advance our media and communication activities, to collecting water samples in the field with Center staff, this is sure to be a fun and valuable experience (Kings River pictured below).
 
Job responsibilities will be dictated by the needs of the Center. Potential responsibilities include but are not limited to website design and development, watershed delineations and map-making with GIS, field work, laboratory work and other work as needed. Students who have experience with website design, CSS, HTML, Adobe Suite or GIS are encouraged to apply. A willingness to spend time outdoors and in streams is a must, as is the motivation to learn new skills independently.
 
To be eligible, you must be a high school student or be graduating high school in the spring of 2016. Previous applicants or interns may apply. This position is for approximately 30 hours per week during the summer of 2016, and time off for vacation can be accommodated.
 
The job posting can be found on our website. To apply, send a cover letter that describes your interests and motivations to join the AWRC and a resume by email to Erin Scott at erins@uark.edu. The deadline to submit an application is April 15, 2016.
Low Impact Development Gaining Ground in Arkansas
“It is much more cost-efficient to prevent pollutants from entering the stormwater than it is to remove [them] once they are in the system.” This is a quote from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that Dr. Sarah Lewis emphasized at the start of the “Blue Pathways” workshop held earlier this year.
 
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service hosted the sixth workshop in a series on Low Impact Development (LID) and how communities can overcome obstacles to the implementation of various LID concepts.
 
The “Blue Pathways” workshop focused on topics including LID policies and ordinances, developer perspectives, return on investment both economically and aesthetically, and overcoming obstacles to implementation.
 
Low impact development is a design concept that better manages stormwater runoff by promoting infiltration of rainwater, thus reducing flooding and the transport of pollutants to nearby water bodies. Some common LID features are rain gardens, bioswales, green roofs, and porous concrete (Main Street in Little Rock pictured below, credit Dave Roberts).
 
Low impact development is still a fairly new concept, especially in the context of government policies. For example, current municipal codes, or regulations, might impede the efforts of developers to incorporate LID features due to certain requirements for street and sidewalk widths, as well as curb and parking requirements. But municipal officials throughout the State have begun addressing the lack of support for LID. For example, in Fayetteville, city officials passed
Chapter 179 in the development code, which provides information on techniques for implementing LID features for property owners, builders and land developers. Sarah Lewis, who spearheaded the legislation, said the effort to engage all key stakeholders in the process of drafting this ordinance is part of what made it so successful. That, and it focused on voluntary activities and education for land owners and developers.
 
Many developers are already incorporating LID features into their landscape designs. The reasons for doing so are multifaceted, and can be driven by economic incentives, with an added benefit of protecting water quality. When a developer builds on land, they must also develop appropriate stormwater control features, which can be costly. With LID, traditional stormwater infrastructure requirements might be reduced – a cost-savings for the developer. In fact, an
EPA factsheet reported that an LID subdivision in Sherwood, Arkansas sold lots for $3,000 more and cost $4,800 less compared to comparable conventional lots. 
 
People like green space and more and more they like to help protect the environment. Many developers who spoke at the “Blue Pathways” workshop said they decided to use LID features because they felt it enhanced the property value.
 
While LID is gaining ground with municipalities and builders, many design professionals wanting to incorporate LID in their projects still have lots to learn. For example, for public projects, it’s imperative for proponents to get support from the mayor, city council members and other elected officials to better understand the implications – both good and bad – of using LID in urban communities. Even basic research into various technologies in different environmental settings can be tough to understand. Soil types, local climate and existing infrastructure could affect how well or poorly some LID techniques will work.

Agencies like the UA Cooperative Extension Service are working to increase education and awareness of the potential benefits of LID to developers, municipalities and the general public.
 
For more information, or to be notified of the next “Blue Pathways” LID workshop scheduled for early next year, contact Katie Teague at kteague@uaex.edu or 479-444-1755.
Algal Toxins Detected in One-Third of Streams Assessed in Southeastern United States
By USGS

USGS scientists have detected toxins known as microcystins produced by various forms of algae in 39 percent of the small streams assessed throughout the southeastern United States. Their recent study looked at 75 streams in portions of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
 
“This is the first systematic stream survey of algal toxins in the southeastern United States,” said Keith Loftin, the USGS research chemist who led the study. “It’s important, because it provides a better understanding of the occurrence of these microcystins in aquatic ecosystems with flowing waters.”
 
Microcystins are a well-known public health concern. Public health practitioners and medical researchers have observed a range of symptoms in humans after exposure to microcystins.  Symptoms can include nausea, dermatitis and, in severe cases, liver failure.  Toxicity issues have been reported for humans, companion animals, livestock and wildlife.
 
Although the maximum microcystin concentration measured in this study (3.2 µg/L) did not exceed World Health Organization moderate risk thresholds (10 µg/L) in the streams sampled, further research is needed to understand the potential effects on water quality and related environmental health concerns in downstream aquatic ecosystems, lakes and drinking water reservoirs.  
 
Previous research indicated that cyanobacteria, a form of algae capable of producing microcystins, were found in 74 percent of the streams assessed throughout the southeastern United States. However, that research did not include the study of microcystins.
 
This is the first of several regional assessments of algal toxins, which will provide context for the design of future environmental health studies. These studies will investigate land-use and other factors that may influence or create new environmental pathways of exposures to cyanobacteria and associated toxins.  Ongoing work by the USGS in the Pacific Northwest and planned work in the northeastern United States and California will expand our understanding of cyanobacteria and toxins in a wider variety of aquatic ecosystems.
 
Support for this work was provided by the USGS’
Toxic Substances Hydrology Program and the National Water Quality Assessment Program (NAWQA).
 

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Calendar of Events

March 15
Drain Smart deadline for artists to apply and submit sketch 
Little Rock, AR

March 18
Deadline for regular presenter registration to NWQMC Conference

March 18
AWRC Deadline to Submit Title to Present at Annual Conference

March 18-19
ONSC Teacher Workshop on Watersheds
Huntsville, AR

March 19
BWA Cleanup at War Eagle Creek
Withrow Springs State Park, Huntsville, AR

March 24-25
OSU Annual Student Water Conference
Stillwater, OK

March 29
EPA Small Systems Webinar Series-Household Drinking Water Systems
Online

April 2
BWA Rain Garden Workshop
Rogers, AR

April 2

IRWP U of A Spring Day of Service
Cave Springs, AR

April 8

SCCSC Application Deadline for Early Career Professional Development Training

EPA Application Deadline for Environmental Education Grants

April 9
LFWP Lake Fayetteville Clean Up
Fayetteville, AR

April 15

AWRC Application Deadline for High School Student Summer Internship
Fayetteville, AR

May 2-6
NWQMC National Water Monitoring Conference
Tampa, FL

June 21-23

UCOWR/NIWR Annual Water Resources Conference
Pensacola Beach, FL

July 26-27

AWRC Water Research Conference
Fayetteville, AR
Job Openings

CH2M
Operations Supervisor
Fayetteville, AR

Simmons Foods
Wastewater Supervisor
Van Buren, AR

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
Natural Resources Program Technician
Corning, AR

Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality
Engineer
North Little Rock, AR

Garver
Several postings for Project Managers, Engineers and Interns
Little Rock, Fayetteville, and regionally