The Arkansas Natural Resources Commission continues to hold public meetings across the state taking comments on its comprehensive water plan. In Little Rock, commission staff presented the plan and fielded questions from citizens on Wednesday.
Todd Fugitt, Geology Supervisor at the Commission, said the new plan would encompass nearly every aspect of water policy. It is the first such update in nearly 25 years, he said, primarily because a lack in funding has prevented the Commision from conducting one.
“The money's just not been there until the last four or five years,” he said. “The [Governor's] administration and the General Assembly set aside adequate funding and we were able to do another water plan. But we are actually recommending that it be done again in five or ten years.”
Fugitt says that despite being a water-rich state, groundwater use in some areas is not sustainable. He says recommendations for a rule making process for water regulations will be delivered to the Governor and the General Assembly to consider in the next regular legislative session.
Deanna Ray, Associate General Counsel for the Commission, says one of the big changes is also recommending a more inclusive rule making process in tweaking water policy.
"In the past its kind of been a document we updated and...put it on a shelf. But this time we want it to be a continuously updated plan. We want to make sure the numbers are continuously accurate and we want it to be [a] much more interactive process,” she said.
In addition to Little Rock, public comment meetings have already been held in Jonesboro and Russellville. Further hearings are scheduled to be held in El Dorado, Stuttgart, Texarkana, Fayetteville, Monticello and Harrison.