The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture received a $100,926 grant to expand green infrastructure into Southeast Arkansas, according to a news release.


Green infrastructure is an approach to community development and water management that protects, restores, or mimics the natural water cycle, according to the release.


The Arkansas Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Division (formerly Arkansas Natural Resources Commission) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded a nonpoint source pollution program grant to the UA Division of Agriculture to support the expansion of green infrastructure into southeastern counties.


Green infrastructure includes the incorporation of the natural environment and engineered systems to provide clean water, maintain ecosystem functions and provide a wide array of benefits to communities, people and wildlife, said John Pennington, water quality educator for the Division of Agriculture.


The process is designed to be effective and economical, with the ultimate goal of enhancing community safety and quality of life.


“Green infrastructure solutions can be applied on different scales, from homebuilding to landscaping,” Pennington said.


“At the local level, green infrastructure practices include rain gardens, bioswales, permeable pavers, green roofs, green walls and rainwater harvesting systems. At the largest scale, the preservation and restoration of natural landscapes, such as forests, floodplains and wetlands, are critical components of green infrastructure,” he said.


Pennington said the funding represents an opportunity to bolster natural ecosystems in the area.


“Southeast Arkansas has an amazing amount of naturally occurring green infrastructure, but there is both a need and an opportunity to maintain it while simultaneously increasing the incorporation of green infrastructure into the ‘build environment’ since it can provide so many benefits to the people and communities in the region,” Pennington said.


The grant will support installation of 10 green infrastructure practices in portions of the Bayou Bartholomew watershed.


“The Bayou Bartholomew watershed is known as the longest bayou in the world, and the second most ecologically diverse waterway in North America,” Pennington said. “However, the bayou faces water quality issues associated with sediment, nutrients, and heavy metals.”


The project seeks to reduce nonpoint source pollution and excessive stormwater runoff through the installation of green infrastructure practices, and encouraging additional green infrastructure practices by providing a series of educational workshops over the next two years.


To learn more about the project or ways to help protect water quality, contact John Pennington at 501-671-2195 or jhpennington@uaex.edu. Visit the U of A System Division of Agriculture at www.uaex.edu or follow the Cooperative Extension Service on Twitter at @UAEX_edu and on Instagram at @UAEX_edu. Follow the Agricultural Experiment Station on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch and Instagram at ArkAgResearch.


The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without discrmination.