Welcome from Arkansas Natural Resources Commission Director J. Randy Young P.E.
January 7, 2015--There is no resource more important to our state than water. We depend upon water for our very existence. Water grows the food we eat, nourishes our bodies, and supports our businesses, industries, and overall economy. Water is equally vital to our natural environment, fisheries, wildlife, and recreational opportunities.
Thank you to all of the many Arkansans who provided their valuable experience and insights to the drafting of the 2014 Update of the Arkansas Water Plan. Through your generous donation of time and attention, we have continued to progress toward wise and efficient use, management, and development of our precious water resources.
There are still opportunities to be of assistance this year as we move forward with rules and continue to hold hearings throughout the state. I continue to welcome your opinions and hope that you will make your opinions, your approval or disapproval of the rules, known to members of the Commission and your legislators.
What IS the Arkansas Water Plan?
The Arkansas Water Plan (AWP) is the state's policy for long-term water management. The AWP includes all previous updates to the Plan and is a dynamic framework updated to meet our state's changing needs. The AWP brings data, science, and public input together to define water demands, water supplies, issues and potential solutions to meet our future needs. The Arkansas General Assembly uses recommendations from each update to determine how to oversee our water resources.
Water Planning in Arkansas
Statewide water planning has a long history in Arkansas. In 1969, the General Assembly delegated the responsibility for state water resource planning to the Arkansas Natural Resource Commission (then known as the Arkansas Soil and Water Conservation Commission). In 1969, ANRC also received statutory authority to begin work on the first Arkansas State Water Plan. The first AWP was published in 1975.
In 1985, the Arkansas General Assembly broadened the ANRC's water planning responsibilities to include conducting an inventory of the State's water resources, determining current needs and future needs of all water uses in the State, and determining whether excess surface water existed that might be put to beneficial use. The General Assembly also directed ANRC to update the original plan, and this update was completed in 1990.
The 1990 Arkansas Water Plan Update successfully addressed the needs of the state over the last two decades. In 2012, ANRC began scheduling meetings and hearings throughout the state to determine what the people of Arkansas thought should be a part of the 2014 Update. Finally, on December 11, 2014, ANRC approved taking the 2014 Arkansas Water Plan Update through rulemaking. Now ANRC will draft rules, embodying the issues and recommendations approved within the 2014 Update, and follow the rulemaking procedures identified in the Arkansas Administrative Procedure Act to make those rules final. In 2015, ANRC will publish notice of the draft rules and again schedule hearings throughout the state to take comments. Eventually, ANRC will present the rules to a legislative committee who will determine whether to approve the rules as final.