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Buffalo River Watershed Alliance

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This page contains information about the Big Creek Research and Extension Team a taxpayer funded study by the Agriculture Department of the University of Arkansas.

Big Creek Research and Extension Team Website Your tax dollars at work.

BRWA Position Paper on BCRET

ORS Letter to Gov. Beebe, 3/21/14 expressing concerns with BCRET


BCRT becomes BCRET, with addition of Dept of Extension

USGS FOIA documents with ERI Powerpoint and mention of "major fracture"

Critical Analysis of BCRET and questions raised ( by JM)

BCRET First Proposal for Microbial Source Tracking

BCRET Early Work Plan 1 - Assessing the Potential for Nutrient Utilization and Loss on C&H Farm

Work Plan 2

Arkansas Phosphorus Index (API) This document explains the role of this complex calculation which is the basis of the C&H NMP and was created in part by Dr Andrew Sharpley, leader of the BCRET.

Memorandum of Agreement between U of A and ADEQ This specifies the agreement for the study to be done by the University on C & H Hog Farm which was funded by the state. (See U of A Monitoring Proposal below)

 University of Arkansas Monitoring Proposal and Workplan This is the proposal by U of A for a $340,000 project to monitor C & H Hog Farm. This is a 1-year proposal but an additional 4 years of monitoring is recommended at an estimated cost of $100,000 per year. This proposal was approved by the legislature on Sept. 5, 2013 to be paid out of "Rainy Day Funds".
2nd Coalition Letter to ADEQ from Karst Geologist Brahana  This is a continuation of the letter below requesting C&H Hog Farm is unsuitable for this CAFO, urges immediate revocation of the permit, and a study of the specific Karst geology from the CAFO to the Buffalo National River.

The Role of Phosphorus Management - Dr. Andrew Sharpley - January 30, 2015 Youtube presentation from Maryland Phosphorus Symposium. Quote from approximately 32;00: "We can't expect cheap food and clean water at the same time."

Arkansas Act 369 (see Sections 13-14), enacted March 6, 2015.  This appropriations act provides an additional $100,000 per year for 4 years for continued support of BCRET, bringing the total amount of taxpayer-support for monitoring this privately owned industrial facility to $740,000. 

NRCS Soil Survey Maps of C&H, October 2015
These maps and charts are from a Freedom Of Information Act request by BRWA to the U of A and describe the soils in the vicinity of C&H, their characteristics, and their suitability for pond construction and manure application.

BCRET Quarterly Reports

All BCRET quarterly reports, from October 1, 2013 through the final report on October 24, 2019, can be found here.

Final Report of BCRET, covering 5 years of research. October 24, 2019

BCRET Final Report to the State Legislature's Joint Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor, June 9, 2020.

Chapter 7 of the Final report, "Nutrient Loads in Big Creek Upstream and Downstream from C&H". This chapter apparently contains errors leading to erroneous results, shown on pages 28-31.

Expert Review of the BCRET Draft Final Report, including BCRET responses.

Independent analysis of BCRET nutrient data

, 5/1/14 - 2/15/17 by David Peterson, Ph. D.

BCRET presentation by Dr Sharpley to Arkansas Farm Bureau Officers and Leaders Conference, July 2016. This 48-minute audio provides insight into BCRET positions on current state of C&H research.

 BCRET Powerpoint presentation to Joint Legislative Committees providing annual update on C&H research, July 10, 2017

Nutrient Concentrations in Big Creek Correlate to Regional Watershed Land Use 

Article by Sharpley, et al in Agricultural and Research Letters, October 26, 2017


Other BCRET/ U of A Documents

Big Creek Research Team Powerpoint Presentation titled "Sustainable Management of Nutrients On C&H Farm in Big Creek Watershed", presented by Dr Andrew Sharpley at the Arkansas Water Resource Conference, Fayetteville, AR, July 16, 2014

Dr Sharpley explains new well sampling protocol, January 25, 2016. This response to a BRWA FOIA request describes BCRET's efforts to answer concerns about E. coli and nitrate contamination of "house well" samples. 

Peer Review Report and BCRET Response This is a review by a team of outside experts who critique the University of Arkansas research project at C&H. The Report is followed by the BCRET response. May 19, 2014

BCRET expenses as on 4/30/2016, totaling almost $500,000.

BCRET Final Work Plan - Demonstrating and Monitoring the Sustainable Management of Nutrients on C&H Farm in Big Creek Watershed

Emails about involvement of Cargill and Farm Bureau with BCRET study design

Summary of early FOIA docs, 12/9/13

BCRET FAQ Sheet, August 2014

Science and Ethics

BCRET Powerpoint presentation to APC&E Commission, June 24, 2016 which concludes that no further investigation into ERI pond data is necessary.

Video of presentation by Dr Sharpley, describing a "Gentleman's Agreement" with ADEQ.

 Electrical Resistivity Imaging (ERI)

BCRET and the U of A School of Agriculture contracted with Dr Todd Halihan of Oklahoma State University to conduct and ERI study on three fields at C&H. Dr Halihan also conducted additional studies around the waste holding ponds in March, 2015. These subsurface imaging studies revealed what was described as a "possible major fracture and movement of waste" beneath the ponds. However, BCRET declined to investigate further and only through FOIA requests did BRWA discover news of this possible leakage in January, 2016.

Memorandum of Agreement between University of Arkansas and Oklahoma State University for ERI study

Preliminary ERI Surveys of Mt Judea Alluvial Sites  This report of work done in Dec. 2014 by Oklahoma State University on behalf of BCRET reveals karst features beneath 2 fields being studied. Of note: "The bedrock at each site contained potential pathways for groundwater flow. One difference between the sites that may be useful for application evaluation is the possibility of hog manure electrical signatures present on Field 12." 

BCRET webpage with data supporting ERI Final Report and pond data

Email thread among BCRET team members regarding an Electical Resistivity Imaging (ERI) investigation around the C&H waste holding ponds, indicating concern over a possible subsurface fracture and leakage.



BRWA and Coalition Powerpoint presentation and accompanying narrative to the APC&E Commission meeting on April 29, 2016 regarding ERI data collected around C&H waste ponds in March 2016 which reveals a possible "major fracture and movement of waste" beneath the facility. Presented by Attorney Richard Mays. The narrative includes statements from experts in the field of geophysics and geology who concur that waste appears to be leaking from the ponds.

BRWA Letter to ADEQ from Attorney Richard Mays, May 23, 2016 asking that installation of synthetic pond liners be delayed until confirmatory drilling can be done to determine the validity of ERI results referenced above. This letter was also provided to APC&E Commissioners at the May 26, 2016 meeting.

BRWA and Coalition Press Advisory, June 17, 2016, announcing a press conference to follow the Pollution Control and Ecology meeting on June 24 to discuss ADEQ and BCRET positions on ERI followup.
ADEQ Press Release June 23, 2016 announcing, " INDEPENDENT INTEGRITY EVALUATION TO BE CONDUCTED AT HOG FARM: The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) will employ independent experts to assess liner integrity of storage ponds at C&H Hog Farms in the Buffalo River Watershed. The evaluation is being advanced to provide additional information to the agency and the community."

BRWA and Coalition Statement to the APC&E Commission by Attorney Richard Mays on June 24, 2016 regarding ADEQ decision to pursue further investigation into ERI data.

BCRET Powerpoint presentation to APC&E Commission, June 24, 2016 which concludes that no further investigation into ERI pond data is necessary.

BRWA and Coalition press statement by Richard Mays at press conference following above Commission meeting. June 24, 2016.

BRWA and Coalition letter to ADEQ from Richard Mays as followup to June 24 Commission meeting. June 29, 2016

BRWA meeting with ADEQ to discuss plans for investigative drilling, July 8, 2016

ADEQ Powerpoint Presentation from meeting with BRWA and the Coalition, July 8, 2016.

BRWA and Coalition Followup Letter to ADEQ in response to July 8 meeting. July 12, 2016

Bert Fisher letter to ADEQ with recommendations for drilling.

BRWA and Coalition 2nd followup letter to ADEQ regarding lack of response to previous messages about workplan for drilling. July 28, 2016

Letter to ADEQ from BRWA and Coalition objecting to presence of BCRET as observers during well drilling. August 4, 2016

Letter to ADEQ from BRWA and Coalition providing comments on technical aspects of the Draft Workplan. August 4, 2016

BRWA FILES INJUNCTION seeking hearing on investigative drilling at C&H. August 24, 2016

BRWA Files Motion To Dismiss Injunction following settlement agreement with ADEQ, Sept. 2, 2016.

BRWA Press Release regarding settlement agreement with ADEQ and dismissal of injunction, Sept. 2, 2016.

ADEQ issues Notice of Technical Deficiency to C&H over its refusal to allow investigative drilling to proceed. C&H is required to carry out the drilling itself or risk denial of it's application for a Regulation 5 Permit, #5264-W. Sept. 2, 2016.

ADEQ letter to C&H acknowledging their agreement to allow drilling to proceed at state's expense with a projected drilling date of 9/19/16. Sept 7, 2016

BRWA letter to ADEQ from Attorney Richard Mays reiterating request for multiple bore holes and referencing 2014 Expert Review Panel recommendations re: pond leakage. Sept. 6, 2016

ADEQ letter in response to above letter from BRWA, Sept. 22, 2016

BRWA and Coalition ask EPA to be present during investigative drilling. Sept. 12, 2016.

ADEQ Press Release announcing completion of drilling. Sept. 29, 2016

Harbor Environmental final Drilling Study Report, released on December 1, 2016 

BRWA questions on Harbor Drilling Study Report, December 15, 2016

BRWA Press Release on Drilling Report, December 16, 2016

Buffalo River Watershed Alliance is a non profit 501(c)(3) organization

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