Agricultural producers in a portion of Arkansas’ White County have until Jan. 18, 2013, to apply for financial assistance through the Little Red River Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP) project.

The Little Red River Irrigation Project, a partnership between NRCS and the Little Red River Irrigation District, is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers for addressing water quantity and quality concerns in the Little Red River Watershed.

“The project area encompasses approximately 83,838 acres southeast of Searcy containing approximately 34,000 acres of irrigated cropland,” said USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Mike Sullivan. “The area has been designated as a critical ground water use area by the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission.”

Funding will be available to eligible landowners through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).  NRCS will provide financial assistance for a variety of conservation practices for the purpose of reducing groundwater depletion in order to conserve the Alluvial and Sparta aquifers, to increase surface water quantity for crop irrigation and improve water quality.Cropland that has been irrigated two of the last five years is eligible.

Participation in the on-farm AWEP project will be voluntary and on private land.  Individuals wishing to participate will work with the Little Red River Irrigation District and NRCS to develop a “Water Management Plan.”The plan will include a “Design Plan” consisting of conservation practices needing to be installed and include an “Operation Plan” to enhance the capability of the system.

“Landowners will make the final decision on practices to be installed and operation of the on-farm irrigation system,” Sullivan said. “They will own, operate and maintain the on-farm components of the project and will be responsible for management of their irrigation system.” 

NRCS and associated conservation partners will deliver this program collaboratively.Applications may be obtained and filed with NRCS at:Searcy Field Service Center, 801 Airport Loop, Searcy, AR 72143. Or call (501) 268-5866, ext. 3.

For more information about AWEP, contact the Little Red River Irrigation District at (501) 279-8165or visit the NRCS Arkansas website here.