Blunt and Beebe pledged to protect the abundance of groundwater that provides drinking water for a significant percentage of the residents of both states as well as cooperating on projects to improve the water quality in the rivers and lakes that is crucial for jobs and growth in the region's tourism industry.
The landmark agreement creates a framework for the two states to identify priority projects, cooperate in monitoring and modeling efforts and develop shared goals and objectives.
The directors of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Missouri Department of Conservation, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission are charged with carrying out the agreement through at least annual meetings and biennial reports to their respective governors on the progress being made. Those reports would become part of the public record.
"This is an historic agreement between Missouri and Arkansas," Blunt said. "Water quality is critical to jobs, economic growth, our environment and the quality of life for citizens of both states. Watersheds and aquifers know no state borders, and interstate collaboration is essential to protecting our streams, providing healthy drinking water and planning for future water needs."
States without cooperative agreements often resort either to the federal government or the court system to resolve disputes, such as the recent intervention of the Interior Department in disputes involving Georgia, Florida and Alabama over Lake Lanier and its water supply which ultimately landed in court.
"Our environment and the taxpayers suffer when states are forced to spend time and money resolving disputes instead of dealing with issues directly and finding common ground," Blunt said. "This agreement is an important tool to help Missouri and Arkansas avoid unnecessary conflicts."
"Stronger communication today will help avoid conflicts tomorrow," Beebe said. "Working together through existing agencies and resources, Arkansas and Missouri can better ensure the future of our shared waterways, and address our common water needs in the best interests of all of our citizens."
Editor's note: We would have liked to have covered this "historic" meeting, but unfortunately we couldn't fit it into our schedule. We don't know whether to judge this gesture as more bureaucratic posturing or a positive outcome. Arkansas and its chicken producers can't seem to negotiate with Oklahoma. The MDNR, as far as we know, has found no way of stopping the dumping of chicken waste from Arkansas producers in Mac County.
The tourist community of Arrow Rock almost had a CAFO dumped in its pristine lap, almost..but no thanks to any efforts by the MDNR to stop it.
We do look forward to the inauguration of the new Democratic governor, current Attorney General Jay Nixon and his shake-up of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources that under the present administration has done more to wreck the environment and contaminate its water supply, solely under the mandate of preserving big business interests at all cost.