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Office of the Secretary
April 21, 2008
Joan Moody
(202) 208-6416

Secretary of the Interior Kempthorne Presents South Arkansas Sparta Aquifer Recovery Partnership with Cooperative Conservation Award for Earth Day

WASHINGTON, D.C.— At a ceremony in the nation's capital today, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne recognized South Arkansas Sparta Aquifer Recovery Partnership as one of 21 recipients nationwide of the Department of the Interior's Cooperative Conservation Award.

The 21 awards recognized the work of more than 700 groups and individuals who achieved excellence in conservation through collaboration and partnerships.

"These outstanding partnerships and cooperative efforts represent a fundamental way in which our Department provides stewardship for America with integrity and excellence," Secretary Kempthorne said. "They embody a broad spectrum of conservation work from restoring wetlands, rangelands and mine lands to protecting wildlife, conserving water and fighting invasive species to teaching conservation values to the next generation."

The award to the South Arkansas Sparta Aquifer Recovery Partnership recognizes the partnership's outstanding contributions to the recovery of Sparta aquifer water-levels in five counties in Arkansas and several parishes in Louisiana in order to conserve valuable water resources. In Union County, use of the Sparta Aquifer has been increasing since the early 1920s, resulting in water level declines of more than 360 feet near El Dorado, Arkansas. As a result, the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission designated a "Critical Ground-Water Area" in five southern Arkansas counties in 1996. To conserve Sparta Aquifer water and to induce water level rebound, the Board and stakeholders in Union County initiated ground-water reuse programs and tapped a surface-water supply as an alternative source for Union County's three largest industrial users.

"The project to conserve the Sparta Aquifer has been a truly expansive partnership, involving the Board, agencies at all levels of government, industry, educators, and students," the award noted. "Continuing conservation efforts and the large industrial users' conversion to surface water has reduced Union County Sparta Aquifer withdrawals by approximately 7.5 million gallons per day, and water levels have risen in all monitoring wells."

The Department of the Interior's Cooperative Conservation Award recognizes conservation achievements resulting from the cooperation and participation of individual landowners, citizen groups, private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and Federal, State, local, and/or tribal governments.

"This is a fitting start to a week of Earth Day activities," the Secretary told the crowd at the main Interior auditorium. "If anyone were to ask me why America is the world leader in conservation of natural resources, I would simply point to the people in this auditorium. You are the spirit and you are the hands of cooperative conservation."

South Arkansas Sparta Aquifer Recovery (Arkansas)
Nominated by the U.S. Geological Survey

Bobby Edmonds, Union County Water Alliance
Jodie Mahony, State Legislator
Rhonda Rudder, Bi-State Sparta Coalition
Cindy Woolsey, Ouachita River Water Association
Arkansas Natural Resources Commission
Todd Fugitt
Earl Smith
J. Randy Young
Burns & McDonnell
El Dorado Chamber of Commerce
Sherrel Johnson
El Dorado Chemical Company
El Dorado Water Utilities
Entegra/Union Power Station
Great Lakes/Chemtura Central Plant
Lion Oil Company
Union County Conservation District
Ken Rudder
Union County Farm Bureau
Johnny Loftin
Sammy Parker
Union County Water Conservation Board
Robert Reynolds
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. Geological Survey
Phillip D. Hays
John E. Terry

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