The Arkansas Water Resources Center publishes this e-newsletter each month to highlight research, faculty, news and important events.
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February 2016

Save the Date for this Year's Water Research Conference

It's that time again and we're gearing up for this year's water conference. We have lots of good topics in mind, sure to make it fun and informative! 

The venue is set and we'll be at the Fayetteville Town Center this year, just on the other side of the downtown square from where we've been in the past. The conference will be held on July 26 and 27, 2016.

More information will be available soon! Until then, if you have any questions, contact Erin Scott at  
Northwest Arkansas Streams Show Increasing Trends in Chloride
The Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, through the 319 Nonpoint Source Pollution Program, has been funding water-quality monitoring for several streams in northwest Arkansas. Researchers with the Arkansas Water Resources Center are investigating long-term trends in water chemistry, particularly looking at chloride, nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment.
The Problem: We've gotten a few bouts of cold weather in Arkansas this winter, and who knows what March might bring. With winter weather comes the potential hazard of slipping and sliding on ice. We fully expect our cities and businesses to protect our safety by deicing roads and sidewalks. The problem is, deicers typically consist of salt, or sodium chloride. Salt easily dissolves in water and when it reaches our streams and rivers, too much salt can have negative consequences for aquatic organisms – chloride concentrations over about 230 mg/L can be toxic to certain plants and fishes.

So What?: As urban landscapes are expanding, more roads, parking lots and sidewalks require deicing in the winter months. This can result in even more chloride reaching our water-ways, which if present in high enough concentrations might change the aquatic community.
The Research Question: Dr. Brian Haggard, AWRC director, and other researchers at the Center want to know, are chloride concentrations changing over time in our local streams and rivers?
The Methods: Water samples were collected at 19 sites across the Upper Illinois River Watershed and the Upper White River Basin over the last 4 to 6 years, depending on the site. Samples were collected nearly every week, including during high-flow storm events, and analyzed for a suite of chemical concentrations, including chloride. Daily discharge data was available for all sites, either from the
US Geological Survey or AWRC gaging stations. The discharge data allowed researchers to adjust the concentrations based on the discharge, known as flow-adjusted concentrations. This adjustment is important in analyzing water-quality data because water chemistry is closely tied to hydrology, so week-to-week or year-to-year variations in discharge should be accounted for when looking at long-term trends. The flow-adjusted concentrations were then plotted over time and we looked to see if chloride concentrations were increasing, decreasing, or not changing during the study period.
The Findings: More than half of the streams monitored showed that chloride concentrations were increasing over the last 4-6 years. When chloride was increasing, the rate of increase ranged from 1 to 19 percent per year. Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, the 3 sites with the greatest increasing trend also had the greatest amount of urban land use – greater than 80%. Researchers also found that chloride concentrations were generally greatest during the winter months.
The Benefits: This
study showed that chloride concentrations have been increasing over the last several years in many streams in northwest Arkansas. Water-quality monitoring is important and can help to identify new or continued water-quality concerns. Researchers plan to investigate even further to determine why chloride concentrations are increasing in the two watersheds. We know that chloride concentrations increase with increasing urban land use, but what is the specific driver? We plan to look look and see if the use of deicers has increased in northwest Arkansas over the last several years. If deicers like salt are driving the increase in chloride, then perhaps we need to consider what we do during winter when it snows, sleets or ices.
AWRC Funds New Research across the State
The Arkansas Water Resources Center is excited to announce the research projects selected for funding this year through the US Geological Survey 104B Program.
“It was a competitive process again this year,” said Center Director Brian Haggard about the proposals submitted. “We definitely appreciate the reviews and comments from our advisory committee,” Haggard said.
The AWRC Technical Advisory Committee is a group of water resource stakeholders from academia, industry and state organizations throughout Arkansas who provide external peer review of all proposals submitted.
This year, the Center is funding 3 faculty and 4 student research proposals, covering a variety of water issues important to Arkansas. The following research proposals were selected:
Faculty proposals:
  • Partitioning Rice Field Evapotranspiration into Evaporation and Transpiration Components; Dr. Benjamin Runkle.
  • Comparative Microbial Community Dynamics in a Karst Aquifer System and Proximal Surface Stream in Northwest Arkansas; Drs. Matthew Covington and Kristen Gibson.
  • Biological and Ecological Consequences of Sub-Lethal Ion Concentrations on Microbial and Macroinvertebrate Detritivores; Drs. Sally Entrekin and Michelle Evans-White 
Student proposals with a faculty sponsor:
  • Investigating Fate of Engineered Nanoparticles in Wastewater Biofilms; Dr. Wen Zhang and Connie Walden.
  • Tracking the Growth of On-Site Irrigation Infrastructure in the Arkansas Delta with Remote Sensing Analysis; Dr. Kent Kovacs and Grant West.
  • Characterization of Nutrient Sources, Transport Pathways, and Transformation Using Stable Isotope and Geochemical Tools in the Big Creek Watershed of Northwest Arkansas; Dr. Phillip Hays and Kelly Sokolosky.
  • Does Macrograzer Activity Drive Seasonal Variations in Algal Biomass in Ozark Streams?; Dr. Michelle Evans-White and Kayla Sayre. 
About the 104B Program
Section 104 of the Water Resources Research Act of 1984 requires
federal base grants to be awarded annually to Institutes like the AWRC in each state. These funds help each Center to train new scientists, disseminate research results to stakeholders and plan and conduct applied research in their state.
Arkansas Soil and Water Conference a Success
Arkansas State University hosted the 2016 Arkansas Soil and Water Education Conference and Irrigation Expo last month. The focus of the meeting was on irrigation issues and solutions in Arkansas, and even provided perspective on irrigation technology from Israeli Prime Minister Menahem Hesse. This one-day conference was packed full of activities, including presentations by farmers about their real-world experiences, a student poster competition, and the award for outstanding conservationist.
“Attendees were excited to hear about the great successes that many farmers have had with cover crops”, said Chris Henry, Irrigation Engineer and session moderator. Cover crops are grasses or other plants that are grown during the off-season between normal crop production periods. Producers shared their experiences of how using cover crops helps to increase soil fertility and provides nice soil structure. Deep rooted cover crops also allow for better water infiltration, which means less runoff and less need for irrigation water use.
There was a student poster competition too, which provided students with great experience presenting their research and findings. “There was some really nice interaction between the students and conference attendees from industry, state and federal organizations and producers,” said Michele Reba, conference organizer.

The 2016 Outstanding Conservationist Award was presented to Phil Tacker during the conference. During his career, Phil led the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service education program for advising producers on irrigation practices and conducting numerous on-farm demonstrations. Phil’s greatest achievement is taking technology for conservation practices from his public-service position with Extension into private industry where this information is being used to improve water usage in Arkansas.  
This conference was made possible because of the many sponsors involved, including the University of Arkansas, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Arkansas Water Resources Center, P&R Surge Systems, Inc., Judd Hill Foundation, Arkansas Farm Bureau, Irrigation Mart, Agricultural Council of Arkansas, AgSmarts, McCrometer, Entergy Solutions, CropMetrics, Southern Soil Solutions, Farm Credit, Lectri-Flo Jones Irrigation Installation, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts.
Storm Drain Art Expands across Arkansas
Batesville Area Arts Council and Main Street Batesville have begun a joint project that will both beautify downtown Batesville and raise environmental awareness. Batesville is located in north-central Arkansas and is the largest city in Independence County and the second oldest incorporated city in Arkansas. Artists in Batesville started painting storm drain murals in 2015 as part of an ongoing project modeled after the UpStream Art project in northwest Arkansas.

The storm drain art project in Batesville began in April 2015 and has slowly progressed over this past year. There are currently four storm drains that have been painted and they intend to have four more in 2016. The purpose is to educate the public on where the water goes from the drain and how it affects our environment. For example, did you know that applying too much salt to icy sidewalks can have an adverse effect on soils and nearby creeks and streams? Water runoff generated from the snowmelt can carry the salt to surrounding soils or deliver it into storm drains which flow directly to area creeks and streams. High concentrations of salts can damage vegetation and might harm water ecosystems.

The mission of the Batesville Area Arts Council is to enrich people’s lives in the Batesville, Arkansas area through the promotion of the arts and to serve as a unified voice for the arts community. Main Street Batesville is one of 15 main street projects happening throughout the state. Batesville hopes to continue the project to raise awareness and beautify the growing downtown area.
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Calendar of Events

February 18
ADEQ Lunch and Learn - Putting Green to Work
Little Rock, AR

February 23
EPA Small Systems Webinar - Consumer Confidence Report

February 24
EPA Water Research Webinar - Green Infrastructure

February 25
Deadline to submit proposal for AWRC-USGS 104G Program Grant

February 26
Deadline to submit proposal for AGFC State Wildlife Grant

February 27
BWA Cleanup at Richland Creek
Goshen, AR

March 1
Deadline to submit manuscript for publication to the Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education

March 1
ADEQ Public Hearing - 2016 Draft Impaired Water Bodies (303d) List
North Little Rock, AR

March 4
Deadline for early registration to NWQMC Conference

March 5
BWA Streamside Management Workshop
Huntsville, AR

March 7
UA Rice Research and Extension Center Irrigation Water Management Summit
Jonesboror, AR
Contact Chris Henry for more information (

March 8
UA Rice Research and Extension Center Irrigation Water Management Summit
Stuttgart, AR
Contact Chris Henry for more information (

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 18-19
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

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

Wisconsin State Water Science-Policy Fellowships
Sea Grant Fellowship and Water Resources Policy Fellowship

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
Summer Internship

Southeast Poultry, Inc.
Waste Water Technician
Rogers, AR

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