New Data Portal Showcases Arkansas Water Quality Trends

Article by:  Laura Kammin, NGRREC Education Program Specialist, LWWL,


CHAMPAIGNTracking nutrient loads in Arkansas just got easier. A new data portal was recently launched on the Great Lakes to Gulf (GLTG) Virtual Observatory that showcases Arkansas water quality trends with a focus on nitrogen and phosphorus loads. The GLTG Virtual Observatory Arkansas data portal is available at joins the existing Illinois portal available at

The GLTG Virtual Observatory is a partnership between the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center and the University of Illinois National Center for Supercomputing Applications, with funding from the Walton Family Foundation. The GLTG platform is an interactive geospatial application that provides user-friendly access to water quality data in the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin.

The Arkansas Nutrient Reduction Strategy was developed in response to federal initiatives to address the size of the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxic Zone. In 2021, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Division, in partnership with the Arkansas Water Resources Center, conducted an analysis of water data collected in all sub-basin level HUC-8 Arkansas watersheds. There are three data layers available on the new Arkansas data portal: site-level trends analysis, aggregated HUC-8 trends analysis, and water quality stations and data availability.

“The GLTG Virtual Observatory Arkansas data portal allows for Arkansas's water quality data to be easily and quickly viewed,” said Katie Mann, Ecologist Coordinator at the Natural Resources Division. “Communicating scientific results to the public about nutrient reduction is very important, and the data portal allows the public quick access to useful information.”

The GLTG platform is unique because it includes over 44 million data points and covers over 122,000 waterways spanning 13 states to create a comprehensive model of nutrient loads entering the Mississippi river. The GLTG data visualizations can help policy makers decide where to direct resources and target locations for nutrient monitoring to provide the most cost-effective results in terms of nutrient reductions. 

Tracking nutrient trends within each state, as well as in aggregate can be a key measure on how well each state is doing in implementing their nutrient reduction strategies,” said Ellen Gilinsky, former EPA Co-Chair of the Hypoxia Task Force and now a consultant on the GLTG project. “By making these trends available, the public, state and federal managers can see how far along we are in addressing nutrient pollution in this important waterbody.”

Future plans include having portals for each of the 12 Hypoxia Task Force states that either link to their state websites or provide additional visualizations for the public on the GLTG website. 

For more information contact Laura Kammin at 

National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC)

Founded in 2002 as a collaborative partnership between the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Lewis and Clark Community College, NGRREC is dedicated to the study of great river systems and the communities that use them. The center aspires to be a leader in scholarly research, education, and outreach related to the interconnectedness of large rivers, their floodplains, watersheds, and their associated communities. To learn more about NGRREC, visit

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