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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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June 2016
AWRC to Host "Zero Waste" Event

We’re teaming up with the Office for Sustainability at the University of Arkansas to host a “Zero Waste” conference. That means we need to divert at least 90% of waste away from the landfill. We can do this by reusing water and coffee cups, recycling everything possible, and filling our plates with only as much food as we’ll eat. Please join us in our efforts toward the sustainable use of all our resources at this year’s conference.
 
The conference will be held on July 26-27 at the Fayetteville Town Center. This year’s program is sure to be interesting and informative. We’ll hear from experts throughout the country on topics such as TMDLs, nutrient sources and transport, the growing threat of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), and how lake and reservoir managers can address the threat of cyanotoxins to drinking water supplies and public health.
 
Register by July 18, 2016 to receive a FREE conference t-shirt. Visit our conference webpage to register, to view the program, and for information about sponsor and advertising opportunities and hotel accommodations. Remember, you can use the reservation code “AWRC” to receive the reduced government rate on the hotel, and you must reserve your room by June 25, 2016.
 
If you have any questions, or would like to advertise at this event, contact Erin Scott at erins@uark.edu.
Researchers Help Make $2 Billion Industry More Sustainable for Arkansas

The Problem: Arkansas crop irrigation requires an enormous amount of water – about 80% of the total water demand for the state, according to the Arkansas Water Plan 2014 Update. This high demand contributes to the depletion of the state’s water resources, especially aquifers in eastern Arkansas. Rice agriculture uses 35% of Arkansas’s crop irrigation water.
 
So What?:  Arkansas rice production adds 2 billion dollars annually to the state’s economy. We’re the largest rice-growing state in the nation, supplying almost half the rice in the United States – that’s about 9 billion pounds of rice annually. To meet the growing demand for rice nationally and globally and to continue to have the water available to do this, we need to improve our understanding of how different irrigation methods impact water use and water losses, such as evapotranspiration (ET) from rice fields.
 
The Research Question: Dr. Benjamin Runkle, assistant professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at the University of Arkansas, and his team wanted to know, is there a difference in the amount of water lost from ET between two different irrigation methods on rice fields?  
 
The Methods: Runkle studied two adjacent rice fields just outside Humnoke, Arkansas. One field was continuously flooded during the rice growing season, the conventional field. The other field was managed with alternate wetting and drying (AWD), a water-saving irrigation technique that farmers can use to reduce their water needs. AWD occurs in cycles where rice fields are flooded, then allowed to dry – that is, the water level is not maintained as in conventional fields.  Runkle and his team measured ET using the eddy covariance method, which utilizes measurements of sensible and latent heat fluxes. They also measured rice plant heights and leaf area index.
 
The Findings: The AWD field required 30% less water for irrigation compared to the conventional field – that means less water was pumped from the ground or diverted from lakes and streams. Interestingly, ET was similar between the two fields – 603 mm of water from AWD compared to 584 mm from the conventional field. Alternatively, the rice grown under AWD conditions was taller and had higher leaf area indices compared to rice grown under continuous flooding.
 
The Benefits: We know that current agricultural practices for water use in Arkansas are not sustainable to meet our future needs. The benefit of AWD is that less water is required for irrigation because farmers don’t have to maintain a constant level of water on their fields. Perhaps more importantly, Runkle and his team showed that the rice plants were more productive in the AWD field, meaning that farmers get to save water and money on irrigation without worrying about reductions in yield. While this work is preliminary, Runkle continues to investigate AWD conditions in Arkansas, which could become regular practice for rice agriculture. This could potentially lead to huge water savings for the farmers, and make water supplies in Arkansas more sustainable.
 
This material is based upon work supported by the U.S. Geological Survey under grant agreement No. G11AP20066 and administered by the Arkansas Water Resources Center. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the opinions or policies of the U.S. Geological Survey.
New Guide Helps Volunteer Monitoring Groups Address Harmful Bacteria in Waterways

The Center for Watershed Protection released a new guide for volunteer monitoring and citizen scientist groups to help protect water quality and human health through bacteria monitoring activities.
 
The guide, titled “Safe Waters, Healthy Waters: A Guide for Citizen Groups on Bacteria Monitoring in Local Waterways”, provides information on how to identify areas with high bacteria, investigate potential sources, and work with municipal and state agencies to improve problem areas.
 
With a focus on human sources of bacteria, the guide describes monitoring techniques that are simple, reliable, and low-cost – all important considerations for volunteer monitoring programs.
 
For more information about the Safe Waters, Healthy Waters guide, contact Laurel Williamson, Stormwater and Watershed Planner, Center for Watershed Protection, at lw@cwp.org, or visit their website at http://www.cwp.org/.
First-of-its-kind Survey Shows That Algal Toxins are Found Nationwide
By US Geological Survey
 

The first-ever National Lakes Assessment of toxins from harmful algal blooms challenges several long-held assumptions, including the extent, distribution and make-up of toxins from harmful algal blooms. The assessment, conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, sampled 1161 inland lakes and reservoirs throughout the United States.

READ MORE
Heavy Weekend Rains Delay Start of Winter Wheat Harvest
By Ryan McGeeney
U of A System Division of Agriculture
June 1, 2016
 
LITTLE ROCK — Heavy rains throughout northeast Arkansas delayed the start of the winter wheat harvest, and wrecked a degree of havoc among other crops throughout the area, Cooperative Extension Service agents said Tuesday.
 
Jason Kelley, extension wheat and feed grains agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said much of the wheat in the state is ready to harvest, but ongoing wet weather has delayed the start of harvest. 
 
READ MORE
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Calendar of Events

June 18
IRWP Illinois River Splash! River and Safety Stewardship
Siloam Springs, AR

June 21

Arkansas Environmental Education Association Expo
Huntsville, AR

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

June 22

IRWP Landowner Dinner
Gentry, AR

June 28

EPA Small Systems Webinar Series - Revised Total Coliform Rule

June 29
EPA Water Research Webinar Series - Contaminants of Emerging Concern in Source and Treated Drinking Water

July 14
BWA and Hobbs State Park Lakes Appreciation Month Kayak Tour
Rogers, AR

July 16

OWW StreamSmart Training Workshop
Rogers, AR

July 26-27

AWRC Water Research Conference
Fayetteville, AR

August 4
USDA-AFRI Proposal Applications Due

August 20
Secchi Day on Beaver Lake
Prairie Creek, AR

September 21-22
ANRC and UA Division of Ag Nonpoint Source Pollution Stakeholder Meeting
Little Rock, AR

October 23-25
SW AWWA Annual Conference
Rogers, AR

October 27-28
ADEQ and ANRC Biennial Watershed Conference: A Fluid Mosaic - The Big Picture of Watersheds
Eureka Springs, AR
Job Openings

Dassault Falcon Jet
Environmental and Sustainability Engineer
Little Rock, AR

City of Rogers - Water Utilities
Multiple postings for plant manager and field technician
Rogers, AR

Arkansas Rural Water Association
Multiple postings for managers and operators
Higginson, Little Rock, Cabot, AR