Spring 2014
In This Issue
Dirt Road Symposium
Watershed Spotlight
Best Management Practices
Upcoming Events
Quick Links
Public Notice
Know the Language
A watershed is an area of land from which water drains to a common outlet, such as the outflow of a reservoir, mouth of a bay, or any point along a stream channel. A watershed consists of surface water -- lakes, streams, reservoirs, and wetlands -- and all the underlying ground water. 

Source: USGS, 2013 - http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu    
Nonpoint Source Pollution:  

Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution, unlike pollution from industrial and sewage treatment plants, comes from many diffuse sources. NPS pollution is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters and ground waters.


Source: EPA, 2014 - http://water.epa.gov/polwaste/nps

Learning Library

Heavy Use Area  
Fact Sheets

Contact Us

Follow the Public Policy Center on Facebook
Drop Shadow Accent Image
Dear Stakeholder,
The Public Policy Center at University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Services presents the first edition of the AR Water Newsletter. This newsletter provides you information and education on activities to reduce nonpoint source pollution to our streams, rivers, and lakes throughout Arkansas. We hope that this newsletter will be a source for ideas to inspire action to protect or restore Arkansas watersheds.
We would like thank our partners for their contributions to this newsletter and invite you to submit local success stories or important dates to be included in future newsletters.

Amanda Philyaw Perez, MPH 
U of A Division of Agriculture, Public Policy Center
Newsletter - Dance Drop Shadow Image

NWA Symposium Focuses on Dirt Roads


The Beaver Lake Watershed Alliance held a multi-county dirt road symposium in December to address runoff water from unpaved county roads and to explore obstacles encountered by local road department crews. The Alliance has identified sediment carried away by storm water as a threat to water quality of Beaver Lake, the drinking water source for 420,000 people in Northwest Arkansas.

Stakeholder groups from Washington, Madison and Benton counties attended the forum at the Huntsville Electric Cooperative as did the Madison County judge, local road superintendents and staff from conservation districts.

Sediment enters War Eagle Creek 
Photo by John Pennington

John Pennington, the executive director of the Beaver Watershed Alliance, provided stakeholders with an overview of potential risks to water quality for the Beaver Lake Watershed and discussed the importance of best management practices in reducing those risks. Stakeholders talked about the obstacles encountered with unpaved roads and stormwater runoff.

Tom Riley from the Cooperative Extension Service facilitated a group discussion about the successes, challenges, and opportunities for addressing dirt road runoff and water quality. Attendees actively participated in the discussion by describing specific issues faced in the Beaver Lake Watershed that may impact water quality, such as construction schedule planning, site and road development without vegetation, and streambank degradation from excess runoff. Participants shared several examples of local success stories, such as new catchments and vegetated road side developments.  

The symposium concluded with an idea to organize a tour of local dirt roads to showcase what works and what issues could be addressed by non-profit, government, local agency, and private entities. The tour is tentatively planned for June. Upcoming meeting details will be provided in a later newsletter.

Watershed Spotlight - Strawberry


The Strawberry watershed is home to more than 20,000 people and stretches across five counties in northern Arkansas. 


Ground water provides 99 percent of the area's drinking water, according to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, which includes the Strawberry Watershed on its list of impaired waterways.


Communities in Independence, Izard, Fulton, Lawrence and Sharp counties make up the watershed. Major streams include Caney Creek, Coopers Creek, Little Strawberry Creek, North Big Creek, Piney Fork, Reeds Creek, South Big Creek, and the Strawberry River.


What's causing the impairment? The watershed has sections of waterways that can't support fish life or swimming because of turbidity or silt from erosion, different bacteria, runoff from agriculture use and in some areas, the cause is unknown. Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality monitors water quality throughout the state to determine which water bodies aren't meeting their designated uses. Water ways that don't meet standards are put on ADEQ's 303(d) list.


Since 2000, The Nature Conservancy has purchased land to create the Strawberry River Preserve. The Conservancy has used the land to showcase different best management practices and with the help of volunteers, planted a half-mile buffer strip of 2,000 trees to prevent stream bank erosion.

Best Management Practices 
Heavy Use Areas
Sharp County's Conservation District advised a producer on the remediation of this heavy use area highlighted at the 2013 NPS Project Review Meeting.


Do you have an area on your property where animals routinely congregate? During wet weather, these heavy use areas allow the mixing of rainwater, soil, urine and manure, and any runoff water from these areas is a potential source of water pollution.


The first step in managing heavy use areas is to reduce the amount of "clean" water that enters these areas. The next step is to slope these areas so the water that does enter these areas is quickly drained. The final step is to use vegetation to filter the runoff water.


Heavy use areas can also be improved by using concrete or gravel. For example, use concrete in feeding areas because cattle tend to defecate near where they eat. Manure can then be scraped and applied else where on the property as fertilizer. Portable feeders that can be moved to allow an area to recover are another BMP.


One of the best practices is to avoid environmentally sensitive areas when designing the use of your property. Click here for more information on beef cattle management for water quality protection.


Landscape Erosion Control


Back yard display at the 2014 Arkansas Flower and Garden Show


Central Arkansas has its share of hills, which means homeowners have their share of sloped yards and erosion. Sediment pollutes many Arkansas waterways so Public Policy Center staff wanted to connect the dots for the homeowner whose every-day problem could turn into nonpoint source pollution. Brainstorming for an educational display at the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show started with the question, "What plants can a person who doesn't know much about erosion or gardening buy when they go to the local big box store or nursery?"


We quickly learned that in January, the answer was not much, and that you have to do some homework before you show up ready to buy plants. For example, assess your yard. Is your issue too much water or too much shade? How much are you willing to invest? What type of ground cover do you want? Do you want to build an attractive island or stop erosion without attention to looks? 


Knowing that native plants are trendy at the moment, we shifted gears and asked staff at the local nursery River Valley Horticulture what plants they had in their greenhouses that could tolerate Arkansas temperatures year-round. The exhibit ended up being a low impact design with native plantings, a dry creek bed, shredded hardwood mulch and terraced stones which offer options for reducing the effects of storm water runoff. Improperly managed irrigation and storm water may contaminate streams, rivers, and lakes in your watershed from soil loss, animal waste, and over application of fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides.


Native species are low maintenance, requiring little to no pruning or fertilizer and less water once established. Dry creek beds help to manage water in your landscape. Terracing with stacked stones helps to reduce water energy as it moves across the surface. Shredded mulch stays in place better than chipped mulch and provides nutrients to plants as it breaks down.


In case you missed our display at the February show in Little Rock, here's the landscaping design handout we shared with more than 200 people who stopped by our booth.  



1. Red Yucca, Shrub


2. Yaupon Holly, Tree


3. St. John's Wort, Sunburst, Shrub


4. Rainbow Leucothoe, Shrub


5. Sweet Flag, Sedge


6. Gaultheria Procumbens, Groundcover


7. Dry Creek Bed  


8. Stacked Stone     


9: Shredded Mulch

Newsletter - Dance Drop Shadow Image

Upcoming Events 
March 11: Seminar on "Big Creek and the C&H Farm: The Science," 3 p.m., Fayetteville, University of Arkansas campus. For more information: http://www.uaex.edu/media-resources/news/march2014/03-04-2014-hog-farm-seminar.aspx
March 11 - 12: Blue Pathways Regional Adapted Plants for Stormwater Design Workshop, Fayetteville. 
For more information: http://arasla.org/

March 14: Arkansas Watershed Stewards Workshop, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton. Free; Lunch included.
For more information, e-mail khiggins@uaex.edu
March 19: Arkansas Watershed Stewards Workshop, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at Craighead County Extension Office. Free; Lunch included. For more information, e-mail khiggins@uaex.edu
April 30: Pesticide Applicator Training, 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. or 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Howard County EHC Educational
Center. For more information, call Cecilia Harberson at 870-845-7517.
Newsletter - Dance Drop Shadow Image
This newsletter is produced as part of a grant from the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, paid for by Section 319(h) Clean Water Act funds.
Top photograph is used with permission from Aubrey Shepherd of Fayetteville.
Issue 1, 2014