Critical Groundwater Areas
A "critical groundwater area" is an area determined by the Commission to have significant groundwater depletion or degradation. Designating an area indicates that the Commission may later determine that limiting groundwater withdrawals by users within the critical groundwater area may become necessary to maximize the area's remaining groundwater resources. Designation also enhances awareness of the groundwater problems within the area and makes it easier to obtain local, state, and federal funds to resolve the area's groundwater problems. The Commission has designated three areas to date. Although the Commission has the authority to initiate regulation in critical groundwater areas by following a process similar to that required for designation of an area, the Commission has never taken steps to regulate these areas.
Proposed Designation of Monroe County
ANRC is considering designation of Monroe County as a Critical Ground Water Area. Monroe County would be added to the Cache Critical Groundwater Area. This consideration is based upon scientific investigation of reported ground water problems within the area and a petition requesting designation from the Monroe County Conservation District with the written support of the Monroe County Judge, the Monroe County Farm Bureau, and the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Services. This designation does not include institution of regulatory authority. Designation would enhance awareness of ground water conservation and make more financial dollars available to resolve ground water problems. It would also enable persons who implement certain conservation practices within the area to claim a 50% tax credit for surface water conversion rather than a 10% tax credit.
In order to designate this area as critical, the Commission must find that the area meets the criteria of Commission Rule 403.1. The Proposed Staff Recommendation explains this process. As a part of its process, the Commission held a hearing to take comments on the proposed designation on March 19, 2019, at 9 a.m. in Clarendon, Arkansas.
The Commission will accept public comment regarding this designation through April 2, 2019 at 4:30 p.m. Written comments may be emailed to the Commission or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Commission will determine whether to make this designation at its meeting on May 15, 2019.