The Arkansas Public Policy Panel is dedicated to achieving social and economic justice by organizing citizen groups around the state, educating and supporting them to be more effective and powerful, and linking them with one another in coalitions and networks. The Panel is currently working in support of policies to strengthen environmental regulations for Natural Gas drilling and to ensure a comprehensive plan to protect Arkansas’ uniquely viable water infrastructure. Once in place, such policies would help protect the many Mississippi River tributaries in Arkansas, aligning well with McKnight’s goal to restore the water quality and resilience of the Mississippi River.
The Coalition emphasized the need to preserve streams, lakes, and rivers and protect groundwater sources, and pushed for a plan to manage the quality and quantity of fresh water.
Arkansas residents have some of the cleanest and most abundant water resources in the world, but the water is threatened by new dams, overuse of aquifers, and pollutants. So the Arkansas Public Policy Panel partnered with Audubon Arkansas, The Nature Conservancy, and other conservation partners to form The Arkansas Water Future Coalition during the 2011 General Assembly, encouraging Legislators to take steps to develop a comprehensive State Water Plan.
The Coalition emphasized the need to preserve streams, lakes, and rivers and protect groundwater sources, and pushed for a plan to manage the quality and quantity of fresh water. Their efforts led to the passage Act 249, which will appropriate $4 million to the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission to update the State Water Plan; and Act 749, to improve state water planning and ensure that water quality and quantity are considered, with an open and inclusive planning process for all stakeholders. As Arkansas continues to develop its water policy, the Arkansas Public Policy Panel will keep working to ensure that state agencies collect and analyze data effectively, and that eventually a new comprehensive State Water Plan is developed which truly protects the quality and quantity of the state’s water resources.