PUBLIC COMMENTS SUBMITTED BY BRWA AND OTHERS
Submitting public comments is an important means for citizens to take action on issues affecting the Buffalo National River. The following are public comments on various topics submitted to state and federal agencies by BRWA and our supporters and partners.
Comments to Arkansas Division of Environmental Quality Revisions to Antidegradation Implementation Methodology (AIM) and Continuous Planning Process (CPP)
Comments on Arkansas Division of Environmental Quality Revisions of Regulation 2 - Water Quality Standards
COMMENTS ON THE US FOREST SERVICE ROBERT'S GAP PLAN FOR THE UPPER BUFFALO RIVER WATERSHED
This comment period closed on Saturday, September 5, 2020.
BRWA Comments - bottom line: we want an Environmental Impact Statement
Roberts Gap project page with links to supporting materials
COMMENTS ON RULEMAKING FOR A PERMANENT MORATORIUM AND OTHER REG 5 & 6 REVISIONS
The PC&E Commission approved all of the proposed revisions to Regulations 5 and 6. However, the legislature reversed that decision and denied a permanent moratorium. As of September 1, 2020 we are still waiting for a final action on this matter - but it's not over yet.
The Pollution Control and Ecology Commission held a public hearing on August 23, 2019 and began a 30-day comment period ending on September 23rd to accept public comments regarding proposed changes to Regulation 5 and Regulation 6 permits for liquid animal waste facilities. ADEQ will post comments after the comment period ends and will then formally respond to all.
Proposed Regulation 5 Changes The most substantive change to Reg 5 is found in Chapter 9: Watershed Specific Regulations regarding the proposal to prohibit permits for medium and large swine CAFOs in the Buffalo River watershed. BRWA supports this change as written. See our complete comments below.
Proposed Regulation 6 Revisions Chapter 6: Specific Basin and Watershed Requirements contains the identical language regarding protection of the Buffalo watershed as in Regulation 5. BRWA also supports this language. However, there are numerous other changes as well, some of which BRWA recommends not be adopted. See our complete comments below.
BRWA oral statement presented by our attorney, Richard Mays on August 23, 2019.
BRWA written comments on Regulation 5 revisions, submitted on Sept. 23, 2019
BRWA written comments on Regulation 6 revisions, submitted on Sept. 23, 2019
White River Waterkeeper comments on Reg 5 and 6 revisions, Sept. 23, 2019
As a life long visitor/vacationers with long family roots to Arkansas I have always treasured the purity of the rivers and water ways. The beauty of the land has amazed and astounded not only myself but my family. Arkansas is our vacation destination yearly. We swim, fish, canoe and enjoy the many caves. That is why a Permanent moratorium is necessary. To keep the Buffalo river pure and beautiful for generations to come. Not only are you ensuring the health and we'll being of Arkansans but all who come to visit this beautiful place. Thank you!
I am writing to urge a permanent moratorium on development of swine CAFOs in the Buffalo River watershed.
As a frequent hiker and kayaker alongside and on the Buffalo River I am familiar with the beauty of the land and water, beauty both spectacular and especially sensitive due to its karst geology which contains cracks,caves and underground streams. This geology makes the area particularly unsuitable for a confined animal feeding operation.
CAFO waste allows for build-up of phosphorus in soils and fails to account for groundwater pathways to the river and the groundwater will make its way to the river because the soil is too thin to accommodate industrial applications.
I am requesting a permanent moratorium so we never again have to go through the time and huge expense to the State of Arkansas to defend the water quality of the river from CAFOs.
The river and the land beside it is not only special to me, but to many many others who not only enjoy the river, but support state and community businesses both directly and indirectly with their travel dollars. A clean Buffalo River enhances the state of Arkansas, drawing people from across the country and helping our local economies.
I am pleased that Gov. Hutchinson and the Commission have taken steps to protect the Buffalo and urge them to institute a permanent moratorium on the issuance of CAFO permits.
Thank you for your consideration, Elizabeth Harris, Mountain View AR 72560
Steve and Joan Miller:
After experiencing so many water quality problems, potential disasters, and battles between residents living in our area (and beyond),we would highly recommend that the Commission adopt the proposed modifications to Rule 5 and 6, permanently prohibiting the development of swine medium-and-large CAFOs in the Buffalo River watershed. This would eliminate potential problems to continue into the future of the Buffalo River watersheds.Thank you, Steven & Joan Miller Jasper, Arkansas
The Buffalo River Watershed requires a permanent moratorium against CAFOs and other polluting industries in order to protect the river’s waters. Reasons to support the moratorium are:
The watershed topography is based on limestone (karst) which is easily dissolved, containing cracks, caves, and fissures providing unfiltered pathways for pollutants to enter the river.
The very caves, springs and waterfalls resulting from the karst and making it vulnerable to pollution, are what bring tourists to Buffalo River country.
This underlying topography of the area was not considered in the initial permit issued to C&H, (in part because there was no local notification of the project).
Large amounts of hog food have been brought into the watershed from outside, and the resulting digested waste has been stored in clay-lined lagoons expected to leak up to 5000 gallons/day with the remaining untreated sewage spread as “fertilizer” on fields also within the watershed.
The problem is that many fields don’t require or take up the “fertilizer”. Thie excess phosphorus runs off surface soil in rains or is leached through the thin soil and porous rock layers, causing streams and river to be over fertilized, resulting in excess algal growth, followed by eutrophication, dying of fish, mussels, and water insects.
People who love nature and wilderness will always want to be near the river. The Buffalo River National Park should be an area for learning what pure waters and protected watersheds can provide. In many parts of our country, as in NJ where I grew up, no streams were safe for swimming or even wading . People are willing to travel far fo find a river with extra ordinarily pure water, such as the Buffalo. The watershed gains importance as population expansion increases the value of such places.
While human enjoyment of the Buffalo may be the most obvious reason to protect it, the watershed area and river provide valuable health services. Native trees and plants provide for pollinating insects needed for crops, as well as erosion control, food for fish and frogs, birds etc. They produce oxygen, and modify weather systems. Soil bacteria and fungi along with insects recycle wastes and return nutrients to the soil.
These are just a few of the reasons that the country’s first National River, the Buffalo, requires a permanent moratorium to protect it against CAFOs or other industries which can disturb the natural processes within the watershed.
Thank you for your consideration and interest in this process.
Pam Stewart P.O. Box 632, Jasper, AR
Please consider that these industrial meat production operations negatively impact thousands of neighboring families and the land they live on while providing only a handful of jobs. I totally support sustainable development of our land so that the future generations have clean food and water. Corporate farming desecrates the land and it’s inhabitants because it is only about profit for a few individuals who don’t even live here. Your paycheck comes from the taxes we pay to ensure the safety and well being of our people.
Grant Scarsdale, Chris Head
I fully support the changes proposed by ADEQ to Rule 5 and Rule 6 that would institute a permanent moratorium on issuance of permits for medium and large swine CAFOs in the Buffalo National River watershed.
My support is based upon sound science, and includes the following reasons why this protection should be made permanent.
1. The Buffalo River Watershed is underlain by karst geology, making it highly vulnerable to pollutants from CAFO operations
The bluffs, springs, and caves that make the Buffalo so spectacular and valuable as a nationally-recognized tourism destination also highlight its sensitivity to pollutants. Karst geology is characterized by dissolved and fractured limestone formations, with caves, sinkholes and irregular underground pathways for liquids. Karst geology in the Buffalo River watershed has long been scientifically recognized, but was not considered in the requirements for the NPDES General Permit for CAFOs under Regulation 6, under which the C&H Hog Farm was originally permitted, and which has since lapsed.
Studies that were developed by some of the country’s leading geologists and hydrologists during the recent litigation over the C&H Hog Farm have demonstrated the unsuitability of karst geology as a location for a confined animal feeding operation – particularly a swine CAFO, due to the volumes of waste produced and the land-application of those liquid wastes – and the dangers they present to the Buffalo River watershed. ADEQ’s staff of highly–qualified scientists also agreed with those conclusions.
2. Rule 5’s requirements include considerations for siting and design contained in the Agricultural Waste Management Field Handbook (AWMFH) that disqualify areas underlain with karst geology.
Chapter 4 of the Commission’s Regulation (Rule) 5 states that “designs and waste management plans” of CAFOs shall be in compliance with, not only the requirements contained in Rule 5, but also the Field Office Technical Guide and the Agricultural Waste Management Field Handbook (AWMFH). The AWMFH is very explicit in stating that karst geology underlying a proposed CAFO facility may disqualify a site for a waste storage pond, treatment lagoons, and other means of animal waste storage and application.
3. CAFO waste is applied to pastures using the Arkansas Phosphorus Index (API), which allows build-up of phosphorus in soils and fails to account for groundwater pathways to contaminate the river.
A significant weakness of the API is its failure to consider karst, gravel bars, or any subsurface geological risk factors when determining the risk of waste applications to waters of the state. As the API fails to account for groundwater or karst, this presents undue risks relative to CAFOs in the Buffalo River watershed.
Even aside from the problem of land-application of swine wastes in a karst area, there is the issue of the over-application of wastes to fields pursuant to the API formula used in CAFO nutrient management planning, which allows an operator to distribute phosphorus in excess of crop removal. Such over-application can not only result in the discharge of excess phosphorus through rain events into surface water, but also the leaching of phosphorus (“legacy phosphorus”) from the plants and soils over extended periods of time into surface waters.
4. Soils in many waste-application fields in the Buffalo River watershed are too thin to accommodate industrial level applications of CAFO waste
The AWMFH states (651.0504(d) Soil Characteristics, depth to bedrock) that a shallow depth of topsoil to bedrock or cemented pan often does not allow for sufficient filtration or retention of agricultural wastes or agricultural waste mineralization by-products. A top soil depth of less than 40 inches limits plant growth and root penetration and reduces soil agricultural waste adsorptive capacity.
Thus, agricultural wastes that are continually applied to thin soils over karst geology, such as those in the Buffalo River watershed, can overload the soil retention capacity. This allows waste and mineralization byproducts to accumulate at the rock interface, or, where karst geology is present, to pass through the karst to ground water, aquifers, and downgradient surface waters.
5. Avoidance of repeating future public payouts
It is difficult to believe that, after the events of the past five years, any other persons or organizations would apply for a permit for another CAFO in the Buffalo River watershed, or that such a permit would be granted. Nevertheless, memories fade, and the possibility that could occur will become greater as the years go by in the absence of a moratorium. The State and others are investing considerable sums of money to resolve the conflict that arose from the C&H permit, and we do not want to see the conflict repeat itself. But, without a moratorium, that investment could be for naught.
I also do not want the C&H settlement to incentivize future permit applicants to acquire another CAFO permit in the Buffalo River watershed with the mistaken understanding that this could lead to another buy-out. This landmark agreement should not be mistakenly considered as a way to turn a profit at the expense of the taxpayer.
I urge the Commission to adopt the proposed modifications to Rule 5 and 6, permanently prohibiting the development of swine medium-and-large CAFOs in the Buffalo River watershed.
I incorporate and adopt all other comments supportive of a permanent moratorium on medium and large CAFOs in the Buffalo River watershed, and reserve the right to submit additional, more detailed comments in writing.
I support the changes proposed by ADEQ to Rule 5 and Rule 6 that would institute a permanent moratorium on issuance of permits for medium and large swine CAFOs in the Buffalo National River watershed for the following reasons:
1) Soils in the area are too thin to entrain the large quantities of animal wastes associated with these facilities.
2) The underlying Karst provides a transport path for these wastes to the Buffalo National River and/or feeder streams, resulting in pollution of these waterbodies.
3) Instituting the moratorium will prevent the need to use taxpayer funds in the future to correct the condition should a permit be issued in the future.
4) The Buffalo National River, as one of the few remaining free-flowing streams in Arkansas and the U.S. is a much too important resource to risk pollution in the future.
Friends of the North Fork and White Rivers:
On behalf of Friends of the North Fork and White Rivers I
want to express our support for the proposed changes to
Regulations 5 and 6 regarding a permanent moratorium on
medium and large hog CAFOs in the Buffalo River
Our members along with many other groups and
individuals have expressed our dismay that a CAFO was
permitted in the BRW. We have fought hard to secure a
closure of the CAFO and sincerely hope a permanent ban
on such CAFOs will help protect the watershed from future
We greatly appreciate the efforts of the Governor and his
administration who worked hard to achieve this outcome
and ask APC&E to follow through and approve this
Friends of the North Fork and White Rivers
Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission
Transmitted Via Email
RE: Statement of support for a permanent swine CAFO
moratorium in the Buffalo River Watershed
Friends of the North Fork and White Rivers support the
changes proposed by ADEQ to Rule 5 and Rule 6 that would
create a permanent moratorium on the issuance of permits
for medium and large swine confined animal feeding
operations (CAFOs) in the Buffalo river watershed (BRW).
It is widely accepted that most of the BRW is underlain by
karst geology. The thin top soils that overlay this karst
formation are generally unable to efficiently assimilate
animal waste, allowing rapid infiltration of waste products
into the karst hydrogeology.
It is well established that karst groundwater is extremely
vulnerable to contamination. Studies by state hydrologists
prove that the groundwater in the BRW has a rapid flow rate
through channels and conduits to perennial streams and that
groundwater is the source for base water flow of the Buffalo
River in the low flow months.
For swine CAFOs under Rule 5, design and operational
considerations and requirements for agricultural waste
management systems are to be planned according to the
USDA Field Office Technical Guide and the USDA
Agricultural Waste management Field Handbook. Based on
defined risks of these technical publications, the ADEQ
determined that the risk to the public health and the
environment of the BRW is “very high” when considering the
geological setting of the C&H Hog Farm, the proximity to the
outstanding resource waters and the size of the operation.
The Big Creek geologic location for this hog farm is
representative of the sub-watersheds of the BRW. It was
also stated by the ADEQ, in its Statement of Basis for Denial
of a Rule 5 Permit that “the operation of this facility may be
contributing to the impairment of the waters of the state”. So,
not only is the BRW considered higher risk for swine CAFOs
as defined under Rule 5, but a valid example exists that a
medium swine CAFO in the BRW permitted under Rule 6
contributed to the impairment of the waters of the BRW.
We commend Governor Hutchison and the Commission in
its efforts to protect this nations’ first National River and this
state’s most important tourist attraction. We urge you to
adopt the proposed moratorium for medium and large swine
CAFOs in the Buffalo River watershed.
Immediate Past President
Friends of the North Fork and White Rivers
Marti and Larry Olesen:
We support a permanent moratorium on swine CAFOs in the Buffalo National /River watershed. It is crucial to take the topography and underlying hydrogeology into account when considering anti-degradation of the waters of the Buffalo National River, not only for the benefit of the small businesses and families that rely upon tourism that is depends on its water quality, but also for the life of the river itself.
The geology of the watershed, with such thin soils and limestone subsurface, produces extreme channeling of surface liquids through fractures, sinkholes and epikarst into shallow aquifers, streams and the Buffalo River main channel (as evidenced in Dr. Van Brahana's KHBNR dye trace and continuing water monitoring research). BCRET, BNR, GAme and Fish, and USGS monitoring corroborates the cumulative degradation of the waters. The karst geology in the Buffalo National River area makes it an unsuitable location for concentrated animal feeding operations due to its many caves, springs and underground streams.
In addition, the soils in the Buffalo watershed are thin and cannot contain the large amounts of animal waste that are produced by even a single CAFO, with its quantities of waste equal to two or three times that produced by the city of Harrison with its 12,000 residents. Rapidly changing weather patterns no longer indicate that 25 or 100 year flood measures are reliable. With increasing volumes and frequencies of heavy rain fall, groundwater flow direction and volumes are unpredictable, and unprecented erosion is carrying topsoil deposits of legacy phosphorus and nitrates from application fields and shallow catchment ponds and aquifers into the Buffalo River channel itself. Record high counts of phosphorus are lodging and accumulating in gravel bars downstream from the only swine CAFO in the watershed. These deposits will release phosphorus that upends the natural habitat for endangered and threatened aquatic species, as well as triggering proliferation of unsightly and harmful algal blooms into the waters of the Buffalo for years, if not decades, to come.
To assure that such a permitting mistake as the C&H swine CAFO never occurs again, a ban on this type of facility will ensure it will not repeated in the future. People may forget this episode of river history in years to come, but the Buffalo River will carry its effects for the foreseeable future. Let this ban introduce a healing of the waters and the families of the watershed, so that our children and their children will benefit from the actions that the ADEQ and the governor, and the legislature of Arkansas have taken to preserve this Arkansas wilderness treasure that belongs to us all.
We include the comments of the Buffalo River Watershed alliance in our comments. We support the changes proposed by ADEQ to Rule 5 and Rule 6 that would institute a permanent moratorium on issuance of permits for medium and large swine CAFOs in the Buffalo National River watershed.
Marti and Larry Olesen
Bill Lord and Linda Bryant:
Dear Commission Members and DEQ staff;
RE: Proposed changes to Regulation’s Number 5 and 6
I have reviewed the proposed changes to the Division of Environmental Quality’s
Regulations Number 5 and 6 regarding a permanent moratorium on the issuance of
permits for swine medium to large Confined Animal Operations.
My wife and I agree with the proposed changes and urge you to adopt them as
We live in the Buffalo River Watershed in Newton County and can attest to the
porosity of our local terrain, the thin topsoil, the abundance of caves, springs, and
underground rivers, and the impact (financial and environmental) the Buffalo River
has on our community.
Thank you for the opportunity to express our informed opinion.
Bill Lord and Linda Bryant
On September 17, 2018 ADEQ opened another comment period on its draft decision to deny C&H a permit. The Statement of Basis provides its justification. BRWA fully supports this decision and our Draft comments are posted below. Submit your own comments to ADEQ here. DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS: 4:30 October 17, 2018
BRWA Comments The bulk of these comments are a resubmission of those we submitted in the last round. New comments begin with Section F, page 93. Many of our comments refer to expert reports and depositions taken during the C&H appeal. They may be found on the ADEQ website here
Teresa Turk comments
Dane Schumacher comments
Comments on 2018 Draft 303d List of Impaired Waterbodies
The public comment period officially ended on September 10, 2018. Comments which were submitted may be found on this page under the heading "Public Comments". ADEQ must respond to public comments and their responses will be posted when available.
BRWA Sample Comments as a Word document which can be modified.
BRWA Oral Comments an abbreviated version of more extensive written comments to be posted soon, given at the public hearing, August 17, 2018
BRWA Draft written comments as a Word document which can be downloaded and modified.
White River Waterkeepers template for submitting your own comments
Comments on C&H Reg 5 Draft Permit
Read ADEQ's Responses to public comments here. Revised responses are shown in red.
Read All Comments posted on ADEQ website here
BRWA Press Release with preliminary comments, March 1, 2017
Jessie Green - White River Waterkeeper
Letters from Supporters in Response to ERI Report
Gordon Watkins, Letter to Editor for BRWA, May 2, 2016
Mark Richards, Letter to Gov. Hutchinson, May 4, 2016
Pam Stewart, Letter to Gov. Hutchinson
Chuck Bitting Letter to Gov. Hutchinson, May 4, 2016
Public comments submitted at the APC&E Commission Meeting
APRIL 29, 2016
Accompanying Narrative for Powerpoint which includes expert opinions.