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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 - February 2015
Arkansas House Introduces Nutrient Trading Legislation
House Bill 1067 will allow for nutrient trading, credits or offsets to be used by facilities that engage in point source discharges, such as industry or wastewater treatment plants.  H.B. 1067 is sponsored by Representatives Collins and Davis of the 90th Arkansas General Assembly.
 
Facilities that discharge used or treated water into the environment must obtain permits through the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) to do so, often with increasingly stringent limits on allowable nutrient concentrations. Nutrients are often cited as the reason for water body impairment in Arkansas and throughout the US, so regulating nutrient discharges allows states to address water quality problems and meet designated beneficial uses of waterbodies. However, it can be very costly for some facilities to modify their operations in order to achieve changing discharge requirements.
 
Nutrient trading programs can provide facilities that face higher costs to reduce nutrient discharge with options to meet permit limits.  A program like this allows the purchase of equivalent or even greater pollution reductions from other sources at a lower cost to the facilities. Other states have adopted this market-based approach, hoping to achieve the same water quality goals with greater efficiency and cost savings. Click here to view the bill.
Researcher Spotlight on
Kristen GibsonDr. Kristen Gibson
Assistant Professor, Department of Food Science
 
Gibson received a base grant from the AWRC through the US Geological Survey 104B program to fund a research project titled “Fecal Source Characterization in Select 303(d) Listed Streams in the Illinois River Watershed with Elevated Levels of Eschericia coli.”
 
The Problem:  The Illinois River Watershed (IRW) in northwest Arkansas is one of ten priority watersheds listed in the 2011-2016 Nonpoint Source (NPS) Pollution Management Plan from the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission (ANRC). Several streams in the IRW were on the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality’s (ADEQ) 2008 303(d) list for impaired water bodies for elevated levels of E. coli. This means that the streams fail to meet water quality standards for bacteria based on the streams’ designated use. In the IRW, this impairment often relates to primary contact, which includes activities like swimming. The problem with bacteria in streams is that the source is largely unknown, making development of management plans to improve water quality difficult.
 
So What? Elevated levels of E. coli in water bodies is an indicator of potential human pathogens (i.e. microorganisms that can cause illness in humans) such as viruses, bacteria and amoebas, which can cause nausea, vomiting, headache, fever and other unfortunate symptoms.
 
The Research Question: Bacterial indicators like enterococci, fecal coliforms, and E. coli are currently used as standard methods for the evaluation of microbial water quality. However, these indicator bacteria do not provide enough information to determine the source of contamination. Dr. Gibson’s objective was to use host-specific viruses including enteric viruses and coliphage (i.e. viruses that infect E. coli) to identify the source of the bacteria.
 
The Methods: Water samples were collected biweekly from 23 sites across 8-303 (d) listed streams within the IRW from May 2013 to April 2014. These water samples were processed to determine likely sources of bacteria over multiple seasons including both recreational and non-recreational months. Complex microbial and molecular analyses were conducted on each water sample, using DNA sequences to evaluate the potential origin of the bacteria. These methods are very similar to how researchers track the source of bacteria in foodborne illnesses.
 
The Benefits: Recent advances in both microbiological and molecular methods can allow for the origin of bacteria to be determined with relative certainty compared to the traditional bacterial indicators that are currently used for assessment.  Gibson’s research can help direct targeted mitigation strategies regarding bacteria in streams. More informed management decisions may result in the removal of stream sections from the list of impaired waterbodies, and possibly reduced human health concerns.
Spotlight on
Central Arkansas Water
 Central Arkansas Water (CAW) purchased over 900 acres of critical property along the Maumelle River to maintain and protect the water quality of Lake Maumelle, the Little Rock metropolitan’s primary water source. The property, known as the old Winrock Grass Farm, had historically operated as a sod farm, then was planned for residential development before CAW was able to purchase the land using a grant from the US Forest Service Legacy Program, funds from the State of Arkansas, and ratepayer dollars.
 
Soon after CAW purchased this large area of land on the western edge of Lake Maumelle, they began to work with non-profit and state agency partners to develop a plan for reforestation, riparian connectivity, wetlands restoration, the creation of shrubland habitat and stream bank stabilization projects. Stream bank erosion is an important issue and one of the problems in many watersheds across the state. It is likely the biggest source of sediment and degrades habitat within the stream channel, fills reservoirs, and can influence water treatment. CAW completed a 400 foot stream bank restoration project that stabilized an area along the Maumelle River that previously contributed nearly 70 dump truck loads of sediment every year to Lake Maumelle.
 
With the purchase and rehabilitation of this critical property, CAW continues improving the water quality of the Maumelle River and Lake Maumelle, and in so doing, has helped to reduce the cost of water treatment. CAW continues to implement best management practices throughout the Lake Maumelle watershed and the greater metropolitan area for continued efforts to improve water quality in the region. For more information about Central Arkansas Water and their efforts to protect water quality, visit http://www.carkw.com.
UA Research Experience for Undergraduates
Undergraduate students have the opportunity to conduct research through the University of Arkansas’ Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program during the summer of 2015. Throughout the 10-week program, students will work with University of Arkansas research faculty to conduct field- and lab-based research in areas ranging from water quality and ecosystem services to agricultural sustainability.
 
The REU program is a collaborative effort between the UA, the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Agriculture. Students will participate in a 1-week Ecosystem Services immersion course, an 8-week Research Experience, and a 1-week Data Analysis and Report Writing Course. During the program, students will be provided with room and board on the UA campus, a weekly stipend of $500, and a travel allowance.
 
More information and application materials can be found here. The application deadline is February 13, 2015 and program dates are May 16 to July 24, 2015.


 
Upcoming Events

February 7, 2015
Creek Cleanup: Scull Creek Trail
Gordon Long Park, Fayetteville

February 13, 2015
2015 State Wildlife Grants
Request for Proposals Deadline


February 19, 2015
Speaker Series: "Investing in NWA Water Source Protection - Good for Business, Agriculture, Recreation, Nature and You"
11:30 am- 1:00 pm, lunch provided
Darcia Routh, Arkansas Department of Health


February 25, 2015 
Arkansas Irrigation Expo
8:30 am- 4:30 pm
Grand Prairie Center, Stuttgart
Registration Deadline: February 22, 2015

 
February 27, 2015
Submission Deadline for 2015 Oklahoma Clean Lakes and Watersheds Conference
The conference will be held April 8-9, 2015 in Stillwater, OK.


February 28, 2015
Middle Fork of the White River Cleanup
10 am- 2 pm, lunch provided


March 7, 2015
Streamside Landowner Workshop
9:00 am - 3:00 pm


March 7, 2015
IRWP’s 8th Annual Riparian Project
9:00 -11:00 am

March 14, 2015
Streamside Planting 
Beaver Lake Watershed



 

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