US Army Corps of Engineers
Institute for Water Resources

White River, Black River, & Little Red River, Arkansas & Missouri

Supporting ecosystem health before new impacts

The White River in Arkansas is an important source of hydropower and water supply for the area, and more water resource development projects are being considered. Corps and Conservancy staff are working to determine how much water needs to stay in the river to support wildlife before any new changes take place. Maintaining vibrant river and floodplain ecosystems supports outdoor recreation including boating, hunting and fishing activities, which are important economic generators in the region. Healthy habitats also benefit migrating birds at this stop on the Mississippi Flyway.

White River

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This project is atypical for the Sustainable Rivers Program. Though the White River has dams on the mainstem (Beaver dam, AR, Table Rock dam, MO, Bull Shoals, AR) and some of its major tributaries (Norfork dam on the Norfork River, AR, Clearwater Lake dam on the Black River, MO, and Greers Ferry Dam on the Little Red River, AR) the primary focus is on large water withdraw systems planed to ease irrigation demand on local aquifers (Alluvial and Sparta). The Grand Prairie Area Demonstration Project is designed to pump water out of the White River and distribute it to farms through out the Grand Prairie via canal network. This project will be capable of pumping 1,640cfs. The project is called a demonstration because there are four additional irrigation projects planed for the White River basin. This amount of consumptive ability will have significant impacts on in stream flows. The more demand put on the river the more important it is to understand when consumption conflicts with the needs of the river and its floodplain. This is an opportunity to define ecosystem flow needs before a new major impact is introduced to the environment. Ecosystem flow needs should be defined in spatially and temporally specific terms. Once quantified, ecosystem flow needs can be compared to the requirements of other water resource (hydropower production, navigation, agriculture, water supply) to formulate ecologically sustainable water management plans that ensure the long-term viability of basin water resources.

White River Comprehensive Study (WRCS) Water Resources Study, Authorized under Section 729 of WRDA 1986

USACE General Investigations (GI) program.

  • Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
  • Missouri Department of Conservation
  • Arkansas Natural Resources Commission
  • Missouri Department of Natural Resources
  • Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission
  • Arkansas Waterways Commission
  • United States Fish and Wildlife Service
  • United States Geological Survey


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