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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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Arkansas Water Resources Center
Newsletter - July 2015
AWRC Conference a Success!
 
AWRC’s annual conference was held earlier this month, on July 21st and 22nd with over 130 people in attendance.
 
A lot of positive feedback was given about the conference sessions and speaker line-ups. Thanks to all who participated in making this an interesting and informative meeting.
 
We heard about the strides being made to understand some of our most pressing water resource issues. Conference sessions included topics like how to reduce nutrient and sediment transport from agricultural land, and about irrigation and nutrient use in the delta region of eastern Arkansas. An entire day was devoted to learning about ways to reduce the impact of urban stormwater runoff to nearby streams and rivers, including a construction site inspection training and certification course in the afternoon.
 
Issues in water resources are dynamic and the research and implementation of best management practices are ever evolving. We’re fortunate that in Arkansas, we have a multitude of water organizations and research faculty dedicated to improving our collective understanding of the issues and identifying ways to move forward to ensure continued usability of our waters here in the Natural State.
REU Poster Competition at AWRC Conference
 
For the last few years, AWRC has partnered with the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at the University of Arkansas to hold a student poster session during our annual conference.
 
Three students were honored for their research and poster presentation. First place went to Haley McLaughlin (pictured below) for her research titled “Water Quality: Sampling and Testing along the West Fork of the White River”. Haley is a biological engineering student at the University of Arkansas and Dr. Brian Haggard served as her REU program advisor. 

Second place went to Sarah Hallett (pictured below) for her poster titled “Heterocyte Densities as Proxies for Quantifying Nitrogen Fixation in Ozark Lakes”. Sarah is also a University of Arkansas student in environmental science and Dr. Thad Scott served as her program advisor.

Third place went to Hannah Verkamp (pictured below) for her research titled “Stream Algal Biomass across a Gradient of Agriculture and Unconventional Natural Gas Wells”. Hannah is a biology student at the University of Arkansas and was advised by Dr. Michelle Evans-White.

The REU program allows undergraduate students to participate in a fast-paced, ten-week long summer research experience. Students often come from around the country to conduct research with faculty from the University of Arkansas, whose research programs have a water twist.
 
This year, 20 students participated in the poster competition, which was judged by conference attendees. AWRC is happy to partner with the REU program to provide students the opportunity to present their research at a professional conference. The REU program led by Drs. Michelle Evans-White, Thad Scott and Marty Matlock was funded by the National Science Foundation and US Department of Agriculture.
Researcher Spotlight on Dr. Thad Scott

Associate Professor, Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences
 
Scott received a base grant from the Arkansas Water Resources Center through the US Geological Survey 104B program to fund a research project titled “The Effect of Global Climate Change on Algal Biomass and Total Organic Carbon Concentrations in Beaver Lake”.
 
The Problem: Organic carbon concentrations are increasing in Beaver Lake reservoir in northwest Arkansas. At the same time, atmospheric CO2 levels continue to increase as a result of human activity. Increases in organic carbon can often be attributed to increases in algal biomass, and increases in algal biomass can often be attributed to increases in phosphorus availability. But, in Beaver Lake, phosphorus concentrations have decreased in recent decades because of successes in watershed management activities. So why are we seeing an increase in organic carbon?
 
So What?: Over 400,000 people in Arkansas rely on water from Beaver Lake for drinking, bathing, cooking and many other activities. During the water treatment process, organic carbon can react with disinfectants to form byproducts that might be harmful if consumed in large doses.
 
The Research Question: Scott wanted to know, do elevated levels of atmospheric CO2 concentrations, coupled with changes in phosphorus availability in the water, cause increases in algal biomass as measured by chlorophyll a?
 
The Methods: Scott and his team collected water from Beaver Lake near the intake for Beaver Water District. Back at the lab, the collected water was used to fill several containers. Different amounts of dissolved phosphorus were added to each container and final concentrations ranged from 0 to 100 µg/L. For each phosphorus concentration, algae were also grown at 3 different CO2 levels representing different atmospheric concentrations: 250 ppm (pre-industrial), 400 ppm (current) and 550 ppm (estimated for the year 2050). The algae were grown for 13 days and then water samples were collected from each container. The water was filtered and the filters were analyzed for chlorophyll a.
 
The Findings: As expected, when more phosphorus was available in the water, chlorophyll a increased. Chlorophyll a ranged from less than 10 µg/L at low phosphorus concentrations to about 60 µg/L at high phosphorus concentrations. To put these concentrations into perspective, chlorophyll a (growing season geometric means) in Beaver Lake ranged from almost 1 µg/L near the dam to almost 19 µg/L at Highway 412 east of Springdale (AWRC MSC Publication 372). On the other hand, surprisingly, elevated levels of CO2 didn’t have an effect on algal production.
 
The Benefits: This is one of few studies that have looked at how increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations might affect algal production in reservoirs. The lack of an effect of CO2 levels in this study demonstrates the complexity of the problem and the lake environment, and possibly the limitations of the experimental design. Continued investigation can help inform water resource managers of potential changes in source water quality in response to elevated atmospheric CO2 levels.
 
This research has led to a publication that is currently in review:
Winston, B., E. Pollock, and J.T. Scott. The Effect of Elevated CO2 Caused by Global Climate Change on Reservoir Eutrophication. Lake and Reservoir Management.
"How's the Water?" 2015 Status of the Watershed Report

By David Casaletto, Executive Director, Ozarks Water Watch
 
Each year Ozarks Water Watch publishes our "Status of the Watershed" report designed to answer the question "How's the water?" in our area lakes and streams of the Upper White River Basin. 
  
Pristine streams, meandering rivers and blue lakes are the region's most important resources, providing drinking water, endless recreation for local citizens and driving the economy through tourism. It is not a stretch to say that the health of our region is a direct reflection of the health of our waters.
 
To gauge the health of our waters at the local level we rely on a network of agencies, organizations and volunteers who in 2014 took over 4,000 measurements at 189 different locations. Over a third of those samples were taken by our dedicated volunteers! 
  
In this newsletter, I am going to give you some of the highlights of our 2015 report. I would encourage everyone to view the complete 12 page report online. If you would like hard copies to distribute, let us know and we will be happy to provide them. The scores in our report show how the numerous monitoring sites compare to one another and are not intended to define "good" or "bad" water quality.
  
What we do attempt to do is show where the highest and lowest relative water quality is located to help us focus our efforts and limited resources where they are most needed. We also report on each region within our large watershed.
  
READ MORE.
Register for EPA Region 6 Stormwater Conference

You can now register for the EPA Region 6 Stormwater Conference to be held on October 18-23, 2015 in Hot Springs, Arkansas.                                      
This week-long conference will cover topics like low impact development techniques, development of total maximum daily loads, selection and installation of best management practices and new rules and regulations for managing stormwater runoff throughout the region.
 
For more information about the conference, visit the EPA or Hot Springs websites.
Upcoming Events

July 29, 2015
Arkansas Water Plan Public Hearing
ANRC
Little Rock, AR

July 31, 2015
Lakes Appreciation Month Kayak Tour
Rte 12, Arkansas 12, Rogers, AR

August 11, 2015
Arkansas Water Plan Public Hearing
ANRC
Fayetteville, AR

August 13, 2015
Beaver Watershed Alliance Speaker Series
"Investing in NWA Water Source Protection..."
Rogers Public Library

Arkansas Water Plan Public Hearing
ANRC
El Dorado, AR

August 15, 2015
Secchi Day on Beaver Lake
Beaver Water District
Prairie Creek Public Use Area, Rogers, AR

August 18, 2015
Arkansas Water Plan Public Hearing
ANRC
Stuttgart, AR

August 20, 2015
Arkansas Water Plan Public Hearing
ANRC
Texarkana, AR

August 22, 2015
Bats and Bluegrass
Illinois River Watershed Partnership
Cave Springs, AR

August 25, 2015
Arkansas Water Plan Public Hearing
ANRC
Monticello, AR

August 27, 2015
Arkansas Water Plan Public Hearing
ANRC
Harrison, AR

August 29, 2015
Trails and Waterways Bike Ride
Illinois River Watershed Partnership
Cave Springs, AR
 
Upcoming Conferences

October 14-15, 2015
60th Midwest Groundwater Conference 
Illinois River Watershed Partnership

October 18-22, 2015
EPA Region 6 Stormwater Conference
Hot Springs, AR

Job Seeking?

 
Ozark Natural Science Center
Teacher Naturalist

The Nature Conservancy
Western Ozarks Watersheds Coordinator

Virginia Tech University
Research Associate - Headwater Stream Ecology and Water Quality
Contact Us
 

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