Mon, Aug 21, 2023 1:33 PM
By Kim Jarrett, The Center Square
Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is calling for a comprehensive review of the state's water plan, last updated in 2014.
The governor issued an executive order Monday directing the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Division of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture to oversee the update.
Phase one is a comprehensive review of the current state water plan with recommendations for improvements and policy.
The second phase will look at current water availability, future water demand and water quality, Sanders said in the executive order. The governor set a Dec. 31, 2024, deadline for a status report on the work.
Sanders directed the state officials to "conduct statewide engagement throughout the process to identify the most pressing current issues and develop the best practicable solutions in collaboration with representatives from all water use sectors, including, but not limited to, interested water planning groups, state and federal agencies, legislators, and local entities."
"The state must investigate all possible solutions to reduce groundwater depletion and provide a sustainable source of water for household, agricultural, and industrial uses," the governor said in her order. "Arkansas is susceptible to frequent floods and depends upon flood mitigation programs and components such as dams, levees, and drainage improvements for protection."
Sanders met with officials in Helena-West Helena last week to discuss water problems there. Reports said aging infrastructure attributed to a water main break that left residents without clean water for several weeks.
The governor "stressed the importance of an engineer’s assessment to prioritize the immediate needs of the community as well as solutions for the Delta region," according to a readout of the meeting from the Sanders' office.