Natural Resources

Efficiently and responsibly managing and protecting our water and land resources for the sustainability, health, safety, and economic benefit of the State of Arkansas

Arkansas Water Law

Water law in Arkansas is derived from a mixture of case law developed by the courts, legislation enacted by the General Assembly, and regulatory programs of a number of state agencies. Federal legislation and federal agency regulation also impact water law rules that apply in the state. In the early years of the state’s development, water law evolved primarily as a matter of dispute resolution on a case-by-case basis before the courts. The Arkansas courts often looked to decisions from other states to assist in “finding” the proper rule of law to apply. As conflicts over water use have increased in recent years and as concerns for both water quality and water quantity have become matters of increased public concern, the legislature has become more actively involved in developing statutory programs to deal with a wide range of water use questions. To carry out the mandates of these legislative programs, state agencies have been called upon to implement the policies outlined in state and federal legislation.