The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) recognized the state’s top environmental stewards during a ceremony at the State Capitol Tuesday (April 24) where Gov. Asa Hutchinson touted key conservation and sustainability practices by private businesses, farmers and other organizations across the Natural State.
“No one cares more about their lands and the conservation efforts and being good stewards than the owner of the land themselves,” Hutchinson said. “I want to compliment ADEQ Director (Becky Keogh) and her leadership in carrying out my mandate for the administration, which is a partnership relationship that we have with the private sector, business and community. It is not a punitive approach – but it is partnership approach that we have.”
After Hutchinson spoke, Keogh told the overflow crowd of finalists and supporters gathered at the Governor’s Conference Room that this year’s competition received a record number of nominations for the agency’s highly-anticipated awards to highlight top environmental projects across the states.
“We are winners here in Arkansas for your successes and your awesome accomplishments as we advance awareness and effectiveness of our environmental and energy programs in Arkansas,” Keogh said.
ADEQ accepted nominations through early March for the agency’s three environmental stewardship awards handed out by Gov. Hutchinson during the ceremony. The ENVY award, which has been presented since 2005, honors a major contribution by an individual or organization involving environmental stewardship activities in Arkansas.
The TECHe Award honors advances or innovative use of technology that breaks new ground in protecting resources or improving the environment by going beyond traditional approaches or outcomes. The Energy Excellence, or TECH E2 award, recognizes organizations that demonstrated outstanding leadership by implementing forward-thinking initiatives in areas of energy efficiency and resilience.
Following are the list of 2018 winners for each award and a brief description of their projects.
• Delta Plastics of Little Rock won the 2018 ENVY award for developing software technology called the Pipe Planner that farmers can use to maximize the efficiency of their polytube irrigation systems and reduce water consumption by an average of 25%. Delta Plastics has donated the Pipe Planner and technical assistance and training to farmers free of charge.
• The Union County Water Conservation Board and Arkansas Discovery Farm were the two other finalists. Union County officials developed a conservation program to decrease water consumption for the Sparta aquifer, one of the state’s five most critical groundwater sources. Arkansas Discovery Farms (ADF) is a program that provides an opportunity for privately owned farms to test conservation practices and evaluate their impact on soil and water resources.
• The City of Fayetteville won the 2018 TECHe Ward for creating a proprietary technology, called the HyDOZ or hyper-concentrated dissolved ozone Disinfection System, for ozonating water and wastewater. That technology was developed by BlueInGreen, an Northwest Arkansas startup. The HyDOZ system is the first of its kind to be installed in a wastewater treatment facility.
• The Environmental and Spatial Technology Inc., known as the EAST Initiative, and the Little Rock Water Reclamation Authority were the other finalists. EAST developed a project-based service learning that encourages students in elementary through high school to apply sophisticated technology in solving problems, while the Little Rock utility developed the Sewer Line Rapid Assessment Tool for its preventative maintenance program for 12-inch or smaller pipes.
• The Arkansas Rural Internet Service (ARIS) won ADEQ’s 2018 TECH E2 award. ARIS is the first partnership in the U.S. between an electric company, Ouachita Electric Cooperative (OECC), and a local telephone and internet provider, South Arkansas Telephone Company (SATCO), to bring high-speed internet to a an underserved rural community. ARIS expects to provide high-speed internet service to more than 4,000 South Arkansas residents by 2021.
The Arkansas State University–Newport and Clarksville Light and Water Company were the other finalist for two developing two large solar projects.
Meghana Bollimpalli and Little Rock Central High School are the first recipients of the ADEQuest science award and scholarship. Bollimpalli’s project addressed the growing global energy demand through the development of supercapacitators. In her experiment, she was able to make the design of supercapacitors more environmentally friendly through the use of waste byproducts and the use of a commercial microwave. Central High School will receive $500 for the school’s science program and Bollimpalli will receive $500 for educational purposes.