A 2.5 mile section of the Illinois River was recently recognized by EPA as a watershed success story highlighting many efforts from federal, state, and county agencies as well as watershed groups and local landowners working together  to implement Best Management Practices that ultimately improved water quality along a significant portion of the river.


IR Float


In 2006, this stream reach was listed for exceeding Arkansas’ water quality standard for turbidity in 28% of samples taken from 2001 to 2005.  The Arkansas water quality standard for turbidity is 17 nephelometric turbidity units (NTUs) with no more than 25% of samples exceeding that limit.  Implementation of Best Management Practices on agricultural lands along this stream reach were effective in improving water quality and successfully de-listing this stream segment in the 2014 Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) 303(d) list of impaired waters.




This is one of the very first non-point source success stories in the state thanks to all the efforts from multiple stakeholders to improve the Illinois River Watershed.  Thank you, Tony Ramick and Allen Brown, of Arkansas Natural Resources Commission’s Non-Point Source Management Program for your leadership in addressing non-point source reductions in our state and in the Illinois River Watershed.


seeding slope


Improving, installing and maintaining healthy riparian buffer zones along streams reduces erosion of stream banks and dramatically decreases the amount of sediment entering streams which is a major cause of turbidity.  The Illinois River Watershed Partnership has planted over 20,000 tree seedlings along creeks and streams in headwater streams to help prevent erosion of downstream creeks.  USDA NRCS and FSA programs provide cost share assistance to eligible landowners to install Best Management Practices that improve agricultural production while improving water quality, plant and soil health.  To read more about the Illinois River Watershed Success Story, go to EPA Region 6 website at:




To learn more about water quality in the Illinois River Watershed and participate in an upcoming event to measure turbidity in Illinois River Watershed lakes, join us on July 25, as we celebrate National Lake Appreciation Month http://www.nalms.org/home/programs/lakes-appreciation-month/lake-appreciation-month-home.cmsx

On July 25 IRWP volunteers will head out to monitor water quality using Secchi disks, a black and white disk which is lowered into the water until it can no longer be seen that can then measure the Secchi depth and record it as a measure of the transparency of the water.  Good water quality is inversely related to turbidity – the lower the level of turbidity, the higher the quality of water for aquatic species and habitat. The Secchi disk is quick and easy to use and provides an approximate indication of the depth of the euphotic zone which can help determine water quality.


irwp map


Lakes for July 25 volunteer Secchi Disk monitoring include:

City Lake at Siloam Springs

SWEPCO Lake, Gentry

Lincoln Lake, Lincoln

Bud Kidd Lake, near Prairie Grove

Lake Bentonville

Lake Elmdale, Elm Springs

Lake Fayetteville

Lake Springdale

Lake Wedington, near Fayetteville

Partners Lake at the Watershed Sanctuary in Cave Springs

Lake Tenkiller, Tahlequah, OK


To sign up for the Secchi sampling, please email contact@irwp.org.


Also of importance this week:  On June 18, a public meeting will be held at Janie Darr Elementary School (6505 S. Mt. Hebron Road, Rogers) from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm to share recommendations from a comprehensive new study on the Cave Springs Cave recharge area.  The purpose of the Cave Springs Karst Study was “to assess the current status of local karst resources that support threatened and endangered species and the development of future conservation plans”.   Researchers conducting the study will share a proposed implementation strategy to enact recommended karst BMPs for the Cave Springs Cave recharge zone.  A draft of the water quality protection requirements recommended is also on the excellent website for the study at http://www.cavespringskarststudy.com/



For more information call 479-215-6623 or email us at contact@irwp.org