Conservationists Join With Eastern Arkansas Farmers to Fight Irrigation Plans on White River

February 18, 2004 - Posted at 7:46 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Lawsuits filed in state and federal courts say its best to leave White River water in the White River, not in the rice fields of eastern Arkansas.  Conservationists and some farmers sued yesterday to stop initial construction of an irrigation pumping station at DeValls Bluff.  Wildlife groups say the White River ecosystem would be damaged by the $319 million project.

Some farmers have also joined the suit because they must pay 35 percent of costs to receive the water when they have already invested thousands of dollars to tap groundwater through their wells.

Project backers say the Grand Prarie project will help rice farmers irrigate their fields without having to rely on ancient, underground aquifers that are quickly drying up.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)