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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: OPTIMIZING IRRIGATION MANAGEMENT FOR HUMID CLIMATES

Location: Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research

Title: Water Supply Problems and Solutions in the Grand Prairie Region of Arkansas

Authors
item Tacker, Phil -
item Vories, Earl

Submitted to: Decennial National Irrigation Symposium
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: September 13, 2010
Publication Date: December 5, 2010
Citation: Tacker, P., Vories, E.D. 2010. Water Supply Problems and Solutions in the Grand Prairie Region of Arkansas. In: Decennial National Irrigation Symposium. 5th National Decennial Irrgation Conference, December 5-8, 2010, Phoenix, Arizona. IRR10-9844.

Interpretive Summary: Rice has been produced in Arkansas' Grand Prairie at least as far back as 1905. By 1915 the Alluvial Aquifer, the principal water source for agriculture in eastern Arkansas and surrounding areas, was being tapped at a rate that exceeded its ability to recharge and the problem was exacerbated as the area in rice production increased and farmers began to irrigate other crops. Without an adequate solution, studies predicted the Alluvial Aquifer would be commercially useless by the year 2015; therefore, in 1991 Congress empowered the US Army Corps of Engineers to work with USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service, Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, and other public and private groups to find and implement an effective solution to this 90-year old problem. This report details the progress and setbacks of efforts to implement an effective solution to the problem. Solving the problem will benefit the farmers in the affected area by providing additional irrigation water, will benefit the communities in the area who compete for the water resources, and will benefit everyone by allowing a highly productive region to continue to produce vital food crops.

Technical Abstract: Rice has been produced in Arkansas' Grand Prairie, an area in the east-central portion of the state situated between the White and Arkansas Rivers with more than 100,000 tilled ha, at least as far back as 1905. By 1915 the Alluvial Aquifer, the principal water source for agriculture in eastern Arkansas and surrounding areas, was being tapped at a rate that exceeded its ability to recharge. The problem was exacerbated as the area in rice production increased and farmers began to irrigate other crops. In 1991 Congress empowered the US Army Corps of Engineers to work with USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service, Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, and other public and private groups to find and implement an effective solution to this 90-year old problem. Without an adequate solution, studies predicted the Alluvial Aquifer would be commercially useless by the year 2015; therefore, in July 1998 the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission declared the Arkansas Grand Prairie to be a Critical Groundwater Area. This report details the progress and setbacks of efforts to implement an effective solution to this problem.

Last Modified: 4/20/2014
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