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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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October 2015
Faculty and Student Seed Grants Available
The pre-proposal deadline is coming up, Friday, October 30th!
 
Overview: Each year, AWRC funds research projects across Arkansas through the USGS 104B program. Research faculty at colleges and universities are encouraged to submit pre-proposals. This is a great funding opportunity for research related to water-quality or quantity issues in the State. We plan to fund two faculty research projects for approximately $25,000 each and five student projects for approximately $5,000 each.
 
Program Objectives: Pre-proposals that address program objectives will be given priority. These objectives include, but are not limited to:
 
  • Addressing water-supply and water-quality problems
  • Training and supporting student research
  • Supporting early career faculty
  • Transferring research results to stakeholders and the public
  • Publishing research in peer-reviewed scientific literature
  • Furthering the national water mission and objectives of the USGS
 
Eligibility Requirements: Applications will only be accepted from faculty members or affiliates at institutions of higher education in the State of Arkansas or by students with a faculty sponsor.
 
How to Apply: Access the 
application document here or visit our website for more information. Remember, pre-proposals must be submitted to AWRC no later than October 30, 2015.
Bouldin Monitors Water Quality in Priority Watershed
Dr. Jennifer Bouldin, associate professor of environmental biology and director of the Ecotoxicology Research Facility at Arkansas State University, has been studying water quality in the Strawberry River Watershed for the past 7 years. Bouldin has received funding from the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission (ANRC) 319 program and the AWRC through the USGS 104B program, allowing her to monitor water quality in the watershed.
 
The Problem: Several stream reaches in the Strawberry River Watershed don’t meet their designated uses, which include primary contact recreation and aquatic life. The major concerns in this watershed are sediments and pathogens, and these problems are likely caused by unpaved roads, streambank erosion and agricultural activities. While the watershed is mostly forest, almost one third is grasslands and pastures. The Strawberry River is listed as a priority watershed by the ANRC 319 program and best management practices (BMPs) are being implemented to improve water quality.

 
So What?:  The Strawberry River Watershed is located in the beautiful Ozark Highlands in north central Arkansas, and it is listed as an extraordinary resource waterbody. The Ozark Highlands region is a tourist hotspot where people go for fishing, swimming, paddling and other outdoor activities. The Strawberry River is a diverse ecosystem with many different fish, mussels and other animals.
 
The Research Question: Bouldin wanted to know, have BMPs in the Strawberry River Watershed improved water quality? Some of these BMPs included nutrient management activities, streambank stabilization and fencing to exclude livestock from access to the stream.

 
 The Methods: Bouldin and her  team collected water samples on  three tributaries to the Strawberry  River. Each of the tributaries, the  Little Strawberry River, Sandy  Creek and Greasy Creek, were  sampled at a site upstream and  at a site downstream from BMP  activities. They collected water  samples before, during and after  BMP implementation, beginning  in May 2008 and ending in June  2012. Almost 1600 water  samples were analyzed for  nitrogen, phosphorus and  suspended sediments.
 
The Findings: The study results varied across the three parameters analyzed. 
  • Nitrogen concentrations appeared to often show decreases downstream after BMPs were implemented.
  • Phosphorus concentrations did not seem to change downstream after BMP implementation.
  • Sediment concentrations actually increased downstream at a few sites, following BMP activities.
Bouldin’s work demonstrates that many factors can influence water quality even when BMPs have been implemented to improve water quality.
 
The Benefits:  The implementation of BMPs throughout the watershed will ultimately improve water quality in the Strawberry River.  The reality is that changes in water quality at the watershed often take decades following BMP implementation, and that water quality downstream from BMPs are really influenced by all activities in the watershed upstream. Long-term data is important to understand water-quality changes resulting from natural variability in climate and hydrology, as well as the lag time between BMP activities and the water-quality response.
 
Teresa Boman (pictured above) did her graduate dissertation research on this project and is now an assistant professor of biology at Missouri Southern State University. She and Bouldin are in the process of publishing this work; previous research about land use change, BMPs and macroinvertebrate assessments in the Strawberry River Watershed can be found in the
Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Science.
AWRC Highlights Storm Drain Art
This is our third newsletter to highlight the storm drain art in northwest Arkansas that was selected for the t-shirt designs at the AWRC conference held this past July.

The UpStream Art program in northwest Arkansas and the DrainSmart program in Little Rock uniquely engage the community about the function and importance of storm drains. The purpose of painting storm drain murals is to draw attention to the usually discreet concrete and iron stormwater infrastructure with the hope that people stop and think about where the water flows after it enters a storm drain. If we understand that stormwater flows untreated to creeks, streams, rivers and lakes, then we’ll be more conscious of potential pollutants that can enter those waterways.


Lee Peaslee Porter designed and painted this month’s design called “A Clean Drop”. Lee currently works for the City of Fayetteville’s Sustainability and Resilience Department as a project coordinator. You can find this storm drain mural at 735 Dickson St in Fayetteville in front of the Nanoscale Material Science & Engineering Building on the University of Arkansas campus.  Lee says of the design, “I painted a white water drop on the storm drain to help correlate the image of pure, clean water with water that is going down the storm drain and into our waterways.”

As the urban population of northwest Arkansas grows, so does the potential impact of non-point source (NPS) pollution on area waterways.  One NPS pollutant from our urban landscape is pet waste. Pet waste that is left on streets, sidewalks, yards and trails can easily wash into nearby creeks and streams. This can add harmful bacteria to our water that can make the water unsafe for swimming or wading. Pet waste also has nutrients that cause algae to grow, which can lead to lower oxygen levels in water and a potential problem for fish. Always pick up after your pets and dispose of pet waste in a trash can or flush it down the toilet.

UpStream Art is a program of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service and DrainSmart is managed through Audubon Arkansas. For more information on Arkansas storm drain murals, visit these websites:
www.nwaupstreamart.com or www.drain-smart.org.

EPA Releases Program for the Illinois River Basin

D.E. Smoot, Muskogee Phoenix
 
Federal environmental regulators released on Thursday (October 1st) their long-awaited modeling program for the Illinois River Basin that eventually will be used to set limits for pollutants entering the watershed and Tenkiller Lake.
 
The model, which has been in the works since 2009, was formed as part of a multi-jurisdictional collaboration that involved local stakeholders, the states of Arkansas and Oklahoma and tribal entities. The model, which "relies on two highly specialized computer models, will be used to set total maximum daily loads for various pollutants for the purpose of achieving established water quality standards.
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's model is geared toward meeting water quality standards set for Oklahoma’s scenic streams and rivers, which caps phosphorus at 0.037 mg/L. The numerical standard was adopted in 2003 and determined to be valid in 2012 after a technical advisory group spent a year reviewing new scientific and technical evidence supporting its legitimacy.
 
A minority report backed by two Arkansas agencies disputed the validity of the state’s phosphorus standard, setting the stage for a lawsuit that was avoided by a second agreement inked in February 2013. That agreement authorized a stressor-response study, expected to be completed by December 2016, to determine once again the legitimacy of Oklahoma's phosphorus standard for scenic rivers and streams.
 
The 0.037 mg/l standard was set to address the degradation of water quality within the Illinois River watershed caused by the introduction of phosphorus from both point- and nonpoint-source polluters. Stream overloading of nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen promote vegetative growth, which depletes dissolved oxygen levels and reduces water quality.
 
Derek Smithee, water quality chief for the Oklahoma Water Resources Board and chairman of the Oklahoma contingency overseeing the two-state stressor-response study, described the release of the EPA model as a milestone. He said it could take some time to examine and analyze the model, which is laid out in several hundred pages of documents and exhibits, but he and his colleagues "are going to be tearing into it line by line to see what it says."

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Calendar of Events

October 14-15
IRWP 60th Midwest Groundwater Conference
Bentonville, AR

October 15
ADEQ Putting Green to Work Lunch Series 2015 ENVY Finalist
Fort Smith, AR

October 17
LFWP Lake Fayetteville Clean-up
Fayetteville, AR

October 18-22
EPA Region 6 Stormwater Conference
Hot Springs, AR

October 26
BWA Watershed Lunch 'N Learn
Huntsville, AR

October 27
EPA Small Systems Webinar Series
Online

October 28
EPA Water Research Webinar Series
Online

October 31
IRWP Waterways and Trails Bike Ride
Cave Springs, AR

November 18
EPA Water Research Webinar Series
Online

November 19
BWA Speaker Series
Unpaved road improvement projects...
Huntsville, AR

Nov 24
EPA Small Systems Webinar Series
Online

December 1-3
SWCS Nutrient Management and Edge of Field Monitoring Conference
Memphis, TN

Feb 15, 2016
OSU Research Experience for Undergraduates Application Deadline
Stillwater, OK

May 2-6, 2016
NWQMC National Water Monitoring Conference
Hot Springs, AR

June 21-23
UCOWR/NIWR Annual Water Resources Conference
Pensacola Beach, FL
Job Openings

Garver
Several postings for Project Managers, Structural Engineers, Technicians, etc.
Little Rock, Fayetteville, and regionally

EPA
Agricultural Nonpoint Source Pollution Internship
Washington, DC