Memphis District Commander Col. Zachary Miller and other district leaders hosted the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Army (Civil Works), Mr. Vance Stewart, and USACE's Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations, Maj. Gen. William (Butch) H. Graham, on March 11, 2021.
During his tour, Graham stopped by the Grand Prairie Project to learn more about conserving groundwater resources throughout the region.
The Grand Prairie project is designed to protect the Sparta Aquifer, which is primarily used for drinking water, and the Alluvial Aquifer, which interacts with the area streams and wetlands and provides for continued irrigated agriculture.
Groundwater depletion is one of the Nation's toughest challenges. Working with our partners, including the White River Irrigation District, the State of Arkansas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Grand Prairie Project provides an alternate water source to irrigate some of the most important agricultural areas in the country.
More than 50 percent of the Nation's rice is grown in the region, which is then exported throughout the world. Groundwater conservation efforts are essential to maintain clean, safe drinking water for our country's people and resources while feeding the world.
The project will address the water scarcity problem by providing a supplemental source of non-potable water for regional activities. Combined with conservation measures, this project will provide water security for the region to allow the aquifers to be resilient and recharge, creating stability for human consumption, industrial and agricultural uses.
The project's construction is crucial because the Alluvial Aquifer withdrawals at the current rate continue to lower the water table and, if not slowed or revised, will deplete the aquifer so that it will no longer be a viable source of irrigation water.
The general was further briefed on what was needed to complete the project so that agriculture and drinking water would be preserved for plenty of years to come, further protecting life, land, and agriculture in this area of the region.