Gov. Asa Hutchinson received a final report from the Levee Task Force he organized in July 2019. This report contains 17 statewide recommendations for each levee district to take into consideration.

After he received the report, Hutchinson recalled a helicopter ride he took from Little Rock to Fort Smith. "What caught your attention is the critical, essential role that our levee system plays in protecting our agriculture, our homes and our property." He stated that this realization led to the development of the 26-member task force headed up by Jamie Cook, the secretary of the Department of Public Safety.

Hutchinson followed this recollection by highlighting three of the recommendations the task force put forward. He also praised the balance the task force portrayed when collecting this report.

One of the goals of the task force was to inventory all the Arkansas river systems that have levees. This inventory was put forward as an action item and while the task force itself did an inventory on the Arkansas River, this revealed the need for a more in-depth examination of the other rivers in the state. The option the task force put forward was to partner with St. Francis Levee District over the next year to year and a half in order to carry out this inventory.

As a part of the task force inventory, the United States Corps of Engineers provided the task force with access to their National Levee Database in order to locate any levees in the state of Arkansas and assess the status of the levee and if it needed repair or replacement.

Another point the Governor made was that levee districts that depend on each other should look into merging so that there are fewer districts talking over each other in times of crisis. According to Brad Thomas, Director of the Department of Emergency and Task Force member, Crawford and Sebastian counties are not part of those districts because all the levees in the area are operational and in use. Thomas also took the opportunity to point out that levees in the area worked as designed during the flood of Spring 2019.

"It was a complete honor to serve on this Task Force," Thomas said when reflecting on the past six months.

Finally, the Governor spoke to the need for improved oversight at the state level. This would include standardizing the annual levee report each district turns in. "No one is trying to operate with a heavy hand," Thomas remarked when explaining this recommendation from the task force.

Standardizing the report is meant to hold districts accountable and help districts be able to turn reports in every year and on time.

"We wanted a comprehensive report that could be used by anybody who picked it up. So that's what we feel like we've done," Cook said when summarizing the goal of the task force in this report. The report is meant to aid every district so that each board of directors can take this report and apply it to their specific needs.

The 17 recommendations fell into four main categories to analyze, identify, study, and review levee conditions and laws relating to the levees themselves. The full report is available on the Governor's website.