The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently awarded $2,988,000 to the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission (ANRC) to support management of water pollution in priority watersheds throughout Arkansas, including the Illinois River, Bayou Bartholomew, Strawberry River, and L’Anguille River.
EPA officials said the grant will help the ANRC to fund nonpoint-source pollution, which is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over the ground. This runoff picks up natural and man-made pollutants as it flows, eventually depositing the material into lakes rivers and groundwater, EPA officials said, adding that it can be difficult to manage since it cannot be traced to a specific source.
EPA’s Region 6 office in Dallas is currently overseeing, supporting or working with state and local regulators on a number of critical and controversial environmental issues across the state of Arkansas — including the protection of the Illinois River watershed, the ExxonMobil pipeline oil spill in Mayflower, and the proposed greenhouse gas guidelines to cut carbon emissions in Arkansas by 44%.
In 2014 alone, the EPA awarded several millions of dollars to support environmental programs in Arkansas, mainly through the federal Clean Water and Clean Air acts. Just last month, the EPA’s Dallas-based office gave the ANRC a $9.1 million grant that will go toward projects that replace sewer lines, improve wastewater treatment facilities, and upgrade collection systems in Arkansas communities.
In June, the state Department of Environmental Quality received $591,000 to help monitor ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and other major pollutants. EPA officials said closer monitor of these pollutants will “help Arkansas residents live healthier and breathe more easily.”
Currently, the EPA is taking public comment on changes in rules that govern both the protection of the nation’s water and air quality.