Officials from UALR, Central Arkansas Water, and the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Arkansas Water Science Center entered a partnership Monday that will integrate environmental education with valuable research aimed at protecting and enhancing the area’s drinking water sources.
The agreement, announced at the shore of Lake Maumelle, creates the Central Arkansas Watershed Center of Excellence. The collaboration will allow UALR students and faculty and USGS scientists to work together to improve water quality in Central Arkansas and to inspire students to pursue graduate education in scientific careers.
Dr. Michael Gealt, dean of UALR’s College of Science and Math, said the Watershed Center of Excellence will include four programs:
- A science-based monitoring, research, and information-gathering program that will provide long-term observations of water quality and management strategies for lake, reservoir, and stream protection in central Arkansas.
- A research program that encompasses the scientific investigation of water quality and quantity issues related to source security of drinking, agricultural, and industrial water supplies, as well as the engineering processes that can be developed to enhance security.
- The Watershed Stewardship Program, a community-based program designed to educate the public about conservation, preservation, and stewardship issues of particular water bodies and ecosystems within central Arkansas.
- The Research and Educational Outreach Program that will develop research and outreach opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students in limnology – the division of hydrology that studies inland waters – hydrogeology, and watershed science. The program will communicate the research results to the community by working through local teachers and schools and with workshops on citizen-based watershed projects.
“Overall, the Central Arkansas Watershed Center of Excellence will contribute substantially to the development of human resources knowledgeable about the environment,” Gealt said.