Annual Conference

2018 AWRC Annual Water Research Conference: Post-Conference Wrap-up

This year’s conference was another great success on the books!

The conference theme was “The Value of Water” and over 150 people attended the event at the Fayetteville Town Center on July 23-24.

Chuck Bitting with the National Park Service said, “It was a fabulous meeting and I look forward to next year!” In addition to making sure we have awesome conference t-shirts and delicious food, what makes this conference one of the best is the speakers who come to share their research, successes, failures, and ideas for collaborations.

Session Topics

We opened the conference with a group discussion about the value of water to different stakeholders in Arkansas. Due to unforeseen circumstances, our keynote speakers were unable to be there Monday morning. But, a big thanks to Ryan Benefield, Clell Ford, Nicole Hardiman, and others who pitched in to create a spontaneous discussion session.

The next session covered topics related to microorganisms and how they might respond to changes in water quality. We learned about how microbes can be used directly as bioindicators of pollution, and the potential to use satellite imagery to indirectly detect and monitor harmful algal blooms. We also heard how researchers are trying to track microbes to determine sources of pollution and how microbial biofilms can grow in drinking water distribution lines and release pollutants.

On the afternoon of the first day, we saw presentations on the potential for ecosystem services to attenuate stormwater runoff and nutrient transport, but also the challenges with marketing ecosystem services as nutrient trading regulation in Arkansas moves forward.

Then, to wrap up the first day and start the second day, we heard about water quality issues in the Buffalo National River. There is so much research going on in the Buffalo River watershed from many different organizations, it was great to have everyone come together to share their work and findings.

Then we shifted focus on day two to agriculture. We heard about current issues in water quality, water use, and water availability for surface and groundwater related to irrigation water supplies in the delta.

Finally, the Arkansas chapter of the American Water Resources Association partnered with AWRC for the second year in a row to hold their annual symposium on the afternoon of the second day. The focus of that symposium was “The Value of Citizen Science Programs in Watershed Water-Quality Management”. We heard from professionals with the USGS, Arkansas State agencies, and water resource organizations about some of the programs they have going right now in which citizen scientists and the public can participate.

We want to give a big THANKS to all the presenters and moderators for making this year’s conference so fulfilling.

Poster Competitions

The poster session showcased a lot of research from undergraduate and graduate students on a wide variety of water topics. Along with other undergraduate researchers, students in the Ecosystems Services Research Experience for Undergraduates (EcoREU) program presented findings from their summer work. The competition was tight, and the winners walked away with Amazon giftcards.

Undergraduate Student Competition: Congratulations to Eleanor Henson and advisors Dr. Brian Haggard and Abbie Lasater at the University of Arkansas for getting first place with their poster titled “Reducing Dissolved Phosphorus in Stream Water May Not Influence Estimation of Sediment Equilibrium Phosphorus Concentrations”. Second place went to Jascha VanBrunt and advisors Dr. Lauren Greenlee and Shelby Foster at the U of A for their poster titled “Characterization of Iron Nickel Oxide Nanoparticles for Surface Optimization for Oxygen Evolution Reaction”.

AWRC Conference 2018 Graduate student Joshua Blackstock

Graduate Student Competition: First place went to Joshua Blackstock, advised by Dr. Phillip Hays of the University of Arkansas for their poster “Low-Cost, Long-Term Monitoring of Dissolved Gases in Natural Waters”. Second place went to Danielle Braund, advised by Dr. Sally Entrekin of the University of Central Arkansas for their poster titled “Establishing the Relationships among Land Use, Nutrients, and Aquatic Communities in Headwater Streams”.

Thank you Conference Sponsors

Past Conferences

Each year, AWRC holds a watersheds and research conference. This conference draws over 100-150 researchers, students, agency personnel, municipal personnel, interested citizens and many other water quality stakeholders from around the State and region. Conference topics have ranged from drinking water treatment processes to agricultural water management in the delta in eastern Arkansas. See the list below for programs from past conferences.   


Past Conference Programs


July 23-24

The Value of Water


July 25-26

Protecting Water Supplies for People and the Environment


July 26-27

Nutrients, Water Quality, and Harmful Algal Blooms


July 21-22

Meeting Arkansas's Water Needs Now and Into the Future


July 15-16

Watersheds, Wicked Problems and Water Words


May 14-15

Watershed Research and Ecological Design in the Ozarks


July 11-12

Arkansas Water Planning
and Reservoir Management


July 6-7

The Illinois River and the Statement of Joint Principles and Actions


April 13-14

Water Quality of Groundwater, Reservoirs and Restored Streams


April 14-15

Transboundary Watersheds, Nutrient Hotspots and Riparian Buffers


April 22-23

Watershed Management and Nutrient Loading