The Arkansas Natural Resources Conservation Service has announced April 15, 2011, as the deadline to sign up for an Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP) project designed to conserve surface and ground water and improve pumping efficiency.

“We have $550,000 available for this project and are focusing on counties identified as having a critical groundwater decline by the project’s sponsors,” said Mike Sullivan, NRCS State Conservationist. “By monitoring the fuel and water systems on these farms, we hope to improve water conservation and water quality on agricultural working lands in portions of Arkansas.”

The project, managed by NRCS and the White River Irrigation District, allows producers to install fuel and water monitoring equipment on an estimated 300 wells or re-lifts. The project boundary includes all or portions of Arkansas, Clay, Conway, Craighead, Crittenden, Cross, Faulkner, Greene, Jackson, Jefferson, Lee, Lonoke, Mississippi, Monroe, Perry, Poinsett, Pope, Prairie, Pulaski, St. Francis, Van Buren, Woodruff and Yell counties.

“We will install devices on farmers’ wells and re-lifts to measure the fuel usage, the water pumped, and the engine status. The information can be used to fine tune the pumping and reduce pumping costs by 10 percent or more in most cases,” said Dennis Carman, chief engineer and director for the White River Irrigation District.

Interested individuals should contact their local USDA NRCS office or call the White River Irrigation District office, (870) 255-2202, located in Hazen, Ark., for additional information.