Newton County Times
Big Creek Research and Extension Team releases 4th quarterly report
Posted: Saturday, February 14, 2015 2:00 pm
Arkansas Extension Service | 0 comments
• Big Creek team releases its four quarterly report
• Bacterial spikes reported upstream, downstream from farm
• Researchers say longer term monitoring is needed
• Report can be found at www.bigcreekresearch.org
LITTLE ROCK — The Big Creek Research and Extension Team has released its fourth quarterly report for 2014 on water and soil conditions near Big Creek, a major tributary to the Buffalo National River in Newton County.
The team was originally commissioned by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe in late 2013 to monitor the area surrounding C&H Hog Farms, a large-scale swine concentrated feeding operation near Mount Judea.
In September 2013, the team led by Andrew Sharpley, professor of Crop, Soil and Environmental Science for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, began collecting water samples from Big Creek both upstream and downstream from the hog farm, and soil samples from several fields near the facility.
The team has analyzed the samples for E. coli, nitrates, phosphorus, suspended solids and other constituents, in an effort to discern if the farm poses an environmental or health risk to the Buffalo National River, Big Creek or other surrounding areas.
According to the report, there has not been a notable or sustained change in bacterial concentrations during the monitoring period. Both E. coli and total coliform counts were found to spike after heavy rain events, but levels quickly dissipated in the days following such events. E. coli spikes were recorded both upstream and downstream from the farm.
However, Sharpley said that “a longer period of monitoring is needed for a more reliable assessment of the farm’s impact on the water quality in Big Creek.”
Building on earlier work that used ground-penetrating radar and supplementing dye-tracing work done by an unrelated research team to help “see” the underlying geology, Sharpley added that “in December we contracted with Dr. Halihan from Oklahoma State to conduct Electrical Resistivity Analysis Imaging of two near-stream application fields.
“This should give us an accurate 3-D picture of what formations are below the surface down to nearly 100 feet,” he said, adding that the results of this analysis will be released as soon as possible.
Todd Halihan is a professor in Boone Pickens School of Geology at Oklahoma State. The report can be found at www.bigcreekresearch.org.