Arkansas has an abundance of good quality ground water. However, some parts of the state are not so fortunate. The ground water supply is being depleted faster than the rate of recharge. If this trend continues, it will result in permanent damage to the aquifers and a serious ground water shortage. Measures must be taken to protect the state’s precious ground water supply. This can be done by reducing the use of ground water through conservation and use of excess surface water.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has programs to help agriculture producers install systems for water conservation.
Environmental Quality Incentives Program
Through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service provides a voluntary conservation program for farmers and ranchers to promote agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible national goals.
One of the EQIP priorities in Arkansas is to improve irrigation efficiency and reduce dependence on ground water for irrigation. This is accomplished through several conservation practices that NRCS provides a cost-share for implementing.
Agricultural Water Enhancement Program
A new subcomponent of EQIP, the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program is bringing automation to wells and relifts in parts of the delta. The information collected will help farmers improve irrigation efficiencies on their farms.
AWEP promotes ground and surface water conservation and improves water quality by helping farmers and ranchers implement agricultural water enhancement activities. NRCS has agreed to partner with the White River Irrigation District in implementing this program.
Conservation Stewardship Program
The new Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is a voluntary conservation program that encourages producers to address resource concerns in a comprehensive manner by undertaking additional conservation activities; and improving, maintaining and managing existing conservation activities.
Through CSP, NRCS will provide financial and technical assistance to eligible producers to conserve and enhance soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their land.
CSP encourages land stewards to improve their conservation performance by installing and adopting additional activities, and improving, maintaining, and managing existing activities on agricultural land and nonindustrial private forest land.
CSP offers participants two possible types of payments: annual payment for installing and adopting additional activities, and improving, maintaining and managing existing activities; and supplemental payment for the adoption of resource-conserving crop rotations.
NRCS, working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), is planning and implementing several irrigation water conservation/management projects in Arkansas.
The following projects are currently underway or being planned. Financial assistance (funding made available to landowners through cost-share programs) is currently 65 percent of construction costs. NRCS also receives technical assistance funds for staffing of technical and scientific experts dedicated to these projects.
Areas of Study
Irrigation and Emergency Watershed Protection Program
Walt Delp, P.E.
State Conservation Engineer
Watershed Planning, Watershed Program and Rehabilitation