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 Arkansas Water Plan Update. Finally, on December 11, 2014, ANRC adopted the 2014 Arkansas Water Plan Update and approved implementing the recommendations within the 2014 Arkansas Water Plan Update through rulemaking. In 2015, ANRC drafted a new rule, Title 24, containing these recommendations and held seven rulemaking hearings throughout the state to obtain public comment. ANRC adopted a final rule which was then reviewed and approved by Legislative Council on December 18, 2015 and became effective February 1, 2016. Since that date, ANRC has been working to implement the recommendations within Title 24.