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  • 13 Oct 2018 9:03 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Obvious power grab


    After reading the two guest columns on the Voices page Monday morning, I felt I had to quote Judge Grisham Phillips' first sentence: "Issue 1 is the most un-American constitutional amendment referred to Arkansas citizens by the Legislature during my lifetime."


    This did not even mention what I consider to be the most important part of this obvious power grab by some in our Legislature. If passed, the rules for courts top to bottom could be set by these questionable legislators. This is the reason this issue is being ruled on by our Supreme Court. I can only hope that it will follow the rule of law to remove this as unconstitutional, and no votes will be counted. We are still waiting for a decision.


    When I got to the bottom of the next column, in favor of Issue 1, I saw that it was written by the executive vice president of the Arkansas Farm Bureau. That's the same group that believes the hog farm that is quickly destroying our first national river should be allowed to continue. It is but a lobbyist organization now that favors big business and large corporate farms that have made it harder for the small family farms to operate. It is not the same Farm Bureau I remember when I grew up.


    If issue 1 reaches the ballot box, please vote no. The legislators that referred it do not represent anything but their own interests. We have found out this year what money in politics can create. Better ethics reform is needed desperately. Better yet, better legislators.


    GEORGE CURLIN JR.

  • 10 Oct 2018 7:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Arkansas Democrat Gazette


     Sides at hog-farm hearing claim backing of science

      by  Emily Walkenhorst | Today at 4:30 a.m.                                

                                                    

                     

    A supporter of and opponents of C&H Hog Farms both cited science as the basis of their opinions at the first of two public hearings this month on the farm's permit application.

    In September, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality issued a draft decision denying the farm's new operating permit, which it needed to replace its expired one. The department cited a lack of required information submitted by the owners, including a geologic investigation and emergency action plan, and speculated about the farm's possible contribution to documented pollution near its location.

     

    The farm is allowed to continue operating under its expired permit until the permit application process has concluded.

    C&H Hog Farms operates on Big Creek, 6.6 miles from where it flows into the Buffalo National River. Recent findings of pollution in Big Creek and a portion of the Buffalo River that stretches above and below the confluence with Big Creek have prompted long-time opponents of the hog farm to blame the 6,503-hog-capacity facility for the problems and for algae growth along the middle Buffalo.

    Supporters of the farm point out that Big Creek doesn't have any algae growth and that much of the impairment and bad water quality testing occurred above the farm and above the Big Creek confluence with the Buffalo. Further, a significant amount of the data considered was submitted by hog farm opponents.

    The National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Arkansas System's Agriculture Division also contributed data for the two waters. In the past, hog-farm opponents have questioned at times the university's data collection, which they have called insufficient and potentially biased because of the Agriculture Division's ties to the farming community.

    C&H opponents cite their own dye tracing study that has shown water can flow through the karst terrain and appear upstream of where it was before.

    On Tuesday, opponents of the farm cited the 14 million gallons of hog manure spread as fertilizer as being the cause of the pollution. Supporters of the farm, including one who delivered a comment Tuesday, have argued that evidence is not conclusive and that other activities may be contributing to the impairment.

    Some comments got heated and included insults about some people's mental health and involved rural stereotypes.

    "It's inappropriate to site a CAFO [concentrated animal feeding operation] like C&H in karst," said Marti Oleson, a Ponca resident. She added that she heard concerns about the Buffalo from two Norwegians who visit the river each time they visit the United States.

    "This is not just a Newton County issue or an Arkansas state issue," she said.

    Feral hogs have been increasing in number, said Newton County resident Jared Wheeler, and they are contributing to the problem.

    The algae is not coming from C&H, Wheeler said.

    "I live on Big Creek. There's no algae," he said, adding that he drove near the creek's confluence with the Buffalo River recently.

    "There's no algae there, either."


    The farm owners care about the Buffalo River and work hard to ensure everything they do is done right, Wheeler said.

    "Do you think they want to take and destroy something they are proud of?" he asked. "I've never seen a hog farm that had to go through so many tests, so much scrutiny."

    David Peterson, president of the Ozark Society, said pollution can't be blamed on human visitors to the river, who mostly don't even float. The volume of human waste doesn't compare with the volume of animal waste in the river's watershed, he said.

    "On any given day, the farm animals in Newton County outweigh floaters 400 to 1," he said.

    The algae on the Buffalo has gotten worse, some commenters said. One woman said tourists asked her while they were floating when they'd get past all of the algae. She told them, "'Didn't you see the takeout? That's when you get out of the algae.'"

    The department will hold a second public hearing at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Jasper School Cafetorium, which is closer to the Newton County farm.

    State Desk on 10/10/2018

    Print Headline: Sides at hog-farm hearing claim backing of science

  • 30 Sep 2018 9:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Residents weigh in on state environmental regulators' waters proposal

    Status of Buffalo a main concern

    By Emily Walkenhorst

    Posted: September 30, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.
    Updated: September 30, 2018 at 3:49 a.m.

    State environmental regulators' draft list of impaired-water bodies doesn't provide justification for not listing certain waters and won't protect certain waters from continued pollution, dozens of people wrote to regulators this month.


    Several others urged the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to remove some waters from the list, citing inadequate data and fears over the economic consequences of declaring those waters polluted.


    The bulk of the more than 460 public comments on the department's draft list concern the department's decision to list a portion of the Buffalo National River and a tributary, Big Creek, as impaired.


    In July, the department declared that a 14.3-mile stretch of the Buffalo River and a 15-mile stretch of Big Creek were impaired because of E. coli. Another 3.7-mile stretch of Big Creek, just before it enters the Buffalo, is listed as impaired because of a lack of dissolved oxygen.


    The portion of the Buffalo considered impaired runs above and below the confluence with Big Creek. The department said the source of impairment was unknown, but it stated in other documents this month that C&H Hog Farms, near Big Creek, is a possible source.


    The declarations are draft decisions. The department still must consider public comments, respond to each one and then make a final list. That list needs to be approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The lists are compiled every two years. Last summer the EPA approved for the first time Arkansas' lists dating back to 2010.


    The most commented-on point of contention was that the state's listing of the Buffalo River and Big Creek exempts the waters from requiring new mandatory pollution-reducing activities. Instead of listing the waters under Category 5, which would have required new plans for pollution-reducing activities, the department listed the waters under Category 4b, which requires pollution-control activities through existing initiatives.


    In this case, the department stated that the voluntary Buffalo River Watershed Management Plan and the non-regulatory Beautiful Buffalo River Action Committee were sufficient for the 4b requirements, but many conservationists disagreed.


    "Aspirational goals or unimplemented future plans do not qualify," attorney Ross Noland wrote on behalf of himself and the Arkansas Public Policy Panel.


    A 2007 EPA examination of alternatives used by other states in Category 4b cases says that a water is Category 4b when a total maximum daily load study "is not needed because other pollution control requirements are expected to result in the attainment of an applicable water quality standard (WQS) in a reasonable period of time."


    A total maximum daily load study is what is created under Category 5 to examine potential pollution-reducing activities.


    A 2006 report from the EPA cited by some commenters outlines six elements for 4b listings, including a description of pollution control and a timeline on completing the elements. Commenters stated that the department's listing doesn't include a timeline for such controls.


    In the department's explanation of its 4b listing, officials stated that stakeholders and action committee partners were needed to successfully implement strategy and develop milestones for the Buffalo River.


    "ADEQ and [Beautiful Buffalo River Action Committee] are committed to revising the strategy as necessary to achieve ultimate attainment of water-quality standards in the Buffalo River," the explanation reads.


    The department will respond to comments at a later date.


    Colene Gaston, an attorney for the Beaver Water District, also noted that three parts of Beaver Lake were listed in Category 4b without accompanying regulatory actions.


    The department also cited a watershed management plan in its listing of eight segments or tributaries of the Illinois River. Comments concerning the Illinois asked for regulatory requirements based off of a total maximum daily load study.


    John Bailey, director of environmental and regulatory affairs for the Arkansas Farm Bureau, had other comments about the listings for the Buffalo River and Big Creek.

    Big Creek should be broken into more segments, Bailey said, because of the concentration of E. coli exceedances farther upstream in the creek. The department should have used a geometric mean for measuring E. coli, and much of the data used were collected by opponents of C&H Hog Farms who know how to game the system to get worse test results, Bailey said. All data showing dissolved oxygen impairment was from 2013, Bailey said, and it's unclear if the department has done any monitoring since then.


    Others also criticized the source of some of the data, which the department has to vet to accept, and argued that reliable data do not actually show impairment.

    Two Newton County leaders urged the department not to list any streams in the county at all.


    "We are one of the poorest counties in the state and to hamper the ability of this counties [sic] citizens to make a living is going to further impoverish our county," wrote County Judge Warren Campbell, a relative of one of the C&H owners.

    County Assessor Janet Lager echoed Campbell.


    "Please consider the impact this would have on all farmers, property owners, cabin and kayak rentals, loggers, utilities, and county trash/maintenance departments," she wrote.


    Other county residents and outsiders urged a higher-priority listing in a plea to improve the river and recreation there.


    Alice Andrews, a frequent attendee of public meetings concerning C&H Hog Farms or the Buffalo River, called the department's listing a "Band-Aid" approach.


    "Volunteer effort translates to a long wait before, or if, any significant project is born. Simply put, it's unrealistic," she said.


    The listing is a way to avoid addressing C&H Hog Farms, wrote Gordon Watkins, president of the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance. The watershed management plan is not allowed to address regulated facilities such as C&H, he said.


    The decision, Watkins said, "absolved ADEQ of responsibility for directly addressing a known threat to our state's most treasured stream, relying instead on private citizens and non-profit organizations to shoulder the burden while placing C&H off limits. This is unacceptable."


    Dozens of comments also concerned Fourche Creek, a 20-mile-long waterway that cuts through Little Rock. The secluded creek is often loaded with trash from storm drains and dirt eroded from channelized portions of the creek.


    Conservation groups have touted its potential for recreation for years, and state and local governments have tried to promote the creek, designating it as the state's first Urban Water Trail last year.


    The department placed part of the creek on the list under Category 5, but commenters requested that priority for the creek within that category be raised from "low" to "high," given the level of pollution and the water's use as a recreational destination.


    At the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission's meeting Friday, Dan Scheiman, bird conservation director at Audubon Arkansas, said the higher-priority designation would help his organization apply for funding to do a watershed management plan, which once created would help the organization apply for more funding to clean up the creek.


    Several other comments stated that the department's list was insufficient because it did not list any waters as not meeting anti-degradation requirements.


    Under anti-degradation, extraordinary resource waters, such as the Buffalo River, are not to degrade at all. Under the Clean Water Act, states are supposed to implement plans for determining whether a proposed wastewater permit would contribute to nonpermissible degradation.


    Arkansas is one of only two states without an EPA-approved anti-degradation implementation plan.


    Many comments were related to the department's process for issuing the 303(d) list.

    Gaston asked that the department post its supporting data and other documents online.


    Ed Brocksmith, a founder of Save the Illinois River, also asked that the department explain why other tributaries were removed from previous lists.


    Several commenters noted that explanations for delistings were lacking.


    Others requested that the department draft the required integrated report for the public to examine during the comment period, as well.


    State Desk on 09/30/2018

  • 30 Sep 2018 9:16 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    MASTERSON ONLINE: One toxic ‘soup’

    By Mike Masterson

    Posted: September 29, 2018 at 2:27 a.m.


    If veteran North Carolina environmental writer Elizabeth Ouzts wanted to know the latest developments on the C&H Hog Farms operation in our Buffalo National River watershed, I could help bring her up to speed.


    I’ve equally relied on her work to learn how the record-setting flooding from Hurricane Florence affected that state’s 2,100 similar large swine factories and 3,700 massive open-air waste lagoons.


    Judging from Ouzts’ recent account in Environmental Health News, it’s been a troubled history with North Carolina’s “broken factory farm system” that has grown increasingly serious with repeated floods and storms.


    In her article published Sept. 21, she wrote that Florence caused structural damage or flooded many hog waste pits, sending untold tons of toxic raw waste mixed with floodwaters into surrounding environments.


    The full face of the storm’s damage remains unseen, as waste from these factories (and other pollutants such as coal ash) continued to rise at that time in what swelled into the largest East Coast deluge ever recorded north of Florida.


    Previous calamities, she wrote, involved leakages and failures from those enormous lagoons of animal feces that are periodically reduced by spraying excess raw waste onto crop fields. It’s a practice that doesn’t work in hurricanes and tropical storms. (I’d add C&H’s unsuitable location here in our Buffalo watershed atop fractured karst terrain.)


    In a changing climate, large rain events are becoming more frequent and severe in North Carolina, she writes, “and clean-water advocates say it’s more urgent than ever to shut down waste pits in areas most likely to flood and to phase out the antiquated systems altogether.”


    Before Florence made landfall, she reports, nonprofit Waterkeeper Alliance members observed various hog operations by plane. They reportedly witnessed seven owners illegally spraying waste onto fields that would soon be inundated by heavy rain.


    Her story says many state farmers with lagoons on the verge of overflowing faced a difficult choice between violating permits by spraying their contents on fields, thereby harming rivers and creeks in the longer term, or directly discharging waste from the pits.


    The group also noted problems that tracked with state regulators’ running tally of pit failures based on the factories’ reports. After two days, more than 100 pits had been affected by the storm. Matt Butler, program director at Sound Rivers, a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance, told Ouzts that after Hurricane Matthew in 2016, and now with Florence, the state keeps repeating the same mistakes.


    Ouzts writes that until this year the program to reform the old methods hadn’t received new funding in more than a decade, although some 60 factory hog farms are still in the 100-year floodplain. It was too early to tell at the time of her reporting just how many facilities were overflowing. Yet state officials, the pork industry, and environmental advocates agreed that investing more in the program should be a priority.


    Ouzts reports that most experts say focusing only on the so-called 100-year floodplain is a mistake since heavy rains are expected to become the new normal. For instance, she says, Florence was considered a 1,000-year-storm while Matthew, just two years ago, was considered a 500-year storm.


    This was even more reason advocates of water quality have long argued all hog factories should phase out the older open-air waste pit version and convert to more sustainable systems now used in other states and countries, her story says.


    Such solutions are easier said than done, Ouzts wrote, since that state’s Department of Environmental Quality is understaffed and underfunded by more than 40 percent since 2012. Regulators have faced pressure to protect the state’s largest industry.


    Imagine that, continually lobbied politicos more involved in appeasing financial supporters and mega-corporations than ensuring disease-free water for North Carolinians when both seem feasible.


    State agricultural officials initially estimated Florence claimed at least 5,500 hogs and 3.4 million poultry, most trapped in flooded barns, Ouzts writes, adding that Waterkeepers say “the real culprits are the giant corporate conglomerates that take no responsibility for the waste their hogs produce.”


    Crystal Coast Waterkeeper Larry Baldwin was quoted saying he felt bad for those who have invested their entire lives into growing hogs under the state’s system, and that it should be up to the corporate backers to determine how they might use some of their profits to find a better system. “We’re not even through hurricane season yet,” he told Ouzts.


    Ouzts said all new factory-scale farms with spray waste ponds (as with C&H here) have been banned in North Carolina for more than two decades, as factories slowly adapt to more sustainable methods. But the older, grandfathered factories continue to be re-permitted.


    With nine million hogs, North Carolina is a top national pork producer. The industry—primarily multinational corporations that contract with local farmers—is concentrated in North Carolina’s low-lying southeastern coastal plain, which is precisely where Florence crushed rainfall records.


    Odor and pathogens wafting from animal barns, waste pits, and spray fields can affect and sicken neighbors even in the best weather. That led three juries this year to award hundreds of millions in damages to plaintiffs in suits against Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, with more lawsuits reportedly in the pipeline.


    A recent Duke University study only reinforced such concerns, Ouzts writes, “citing low life expectancy in communities near confined animal feeding operations, even after adjusting for socioeconomic factors known to affect health and lifespan.”


    Such threats are amplified after heavy rains, Ouzts writes. “Fields saturated with rainwater can’t absorb nutrients from waste pits; excess nitrogen and [phosphorus] instead appear in rivers and streams, at worst causing algae blooms and fish kills.

    Manure pits can burst or overflow, sending sludge, microbes, and potentially antibiotic-resistant bacteria into floodwaters, heightening their risk to public health.”


    Ryke Longest, director of Duke University’s environmental law clinic, told Ouzts, “You’re releasing all of that and making this soup of eastern North Carolina.”

    Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist. Email him at mmasterson@arkansasonline.com.

  • 27 Sep 2018 7:37 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    An environmental lesson from hurricane country


    I guess it doesn’t matter that South Carolina and North Carolina are drowning in pig after the hurricane roared through. We don’t live there, so why should we worry about it? It’s just another saga of money-grubbing pig crap lovers vs. the natural beauty pig crap despisers.


    We in Arkansas need to be aware of all the toxins that can be released in large amounts by flooding the environment, whether it be here or elsewhere. Water is the great conveyor. No one and nobody can escape the [pungent] smell or disease and destruction of these concentrated animal feeding operations.


    Does it matter that grillers want their Sunday ribs or workers want their Saturday bacon? Our river, the Buffalo, is worth us sacrificing a little bit until things change on the home front. Even my beloved ham has lost its appeal since this fiasco. Now, when I see pork in the grocery store, it sickens me.


    All of you who created this mess need to quit thinking of your pocketbooks. Do the right thing, no matter what. Learn from what is happening to two unfortunate states in the aftermath of ill-thought-out choices.


    Nothing is worth how you will be thought of, if more harm comes to the awe-inspiring, life sustaining Buffalo River.


    VICKI MOORE

    Greenwood

  • 26 Sep 2018 12:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Eurekas Springs Independent


    ADEQ acknowledging impact of hogs on Buffalo


    Becky Gillette

    September 26, 2018


    Decreased water quality and algae blooms on the Buffalo National River this summer have caused concerns to opponents of a 6,503-head hog farm operated by C&H near Big Creek about six miles from where it flows into the Buffalo River. Leading the opposition is the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance (BRWA) formed after C&H received permits in 2012 with what opponents said was completely inadequate public notice.

    The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) received thousands of comments opposing the hog farm being located in a karst region where fractures in the ground provide a route for surface contamination to spread to groundwater, wells, springs, streams and lakes. C&H farm became a hot spot for a number of environmental studies looking at impacts of waste from the farm.

    And now ADEQ has issued a draft decision to deny a no-discharge permit under the Arkansas Water and Air Pollution Control Act. ADEQ is soliciting public comments until Oct. 17 on the proposal to deny the permit. Comments can be sourced at www.adeq.state.ar.us.

    Gordon Watkins, president of the BRWA, said they are telling supporters that they are pleased that ADEQ, in its Statement of Basis for denying the C&H permit, has laid out an even stronger rationale than was presented in January, particularly when coupled with revisions to their responses to the previous public comments which bolster their Statement of Basis.

    “It appears that both the revisions and Statement of Basis are largely in response to comments from BRWA and others which pointed to non-compliance with regulatory guidance documents as well as the recent draft decision declaring Big Creek and adjacent segments of the Buffalo impaired for low dissolved oxygen and pathogens,” Watkins said. “We have long said that science should lead decision making in regards to the C&H permit and we have previously submitted evidence of environmental impact. Now ADEQ accepts clear scientific evidence of serious environmental impacts to these stream segments attributable to nutrient overloading within the past few years.”

    Watkins said by far the single largest source of the overloading in this area is C&H, which has spread more than 14 million gallons of raw swine waste on surrounding fields since 2013.

    “We fully support the denial and BRWA will be resubmitting its previous technical comments as well as new information which has come to light in recent months, including the draft Clean Water Act 303d report of impaired streams and information contained in expert reports and depositions made available during the permit appeals process,” Watkins said. “We are currently preparing our comments and will be posting a draft on our website (www.buffaloriveralliance.org) soon. Meanwhile, for those who wish to comment now, we encourage commenters to support ADEQ’s Statement of Basis and BRWA and other organization’s previous comments in support of denial.”

    Denial of the permit is opposed by the Arkansas Farm Bureau, which says the issue is about far more than C&H, and could led to restrictions on other farm operations in the state.

    “We just think when you let emotion make decisions instead of science you are setting a bad precedent,” said Steve Eddington, vice president of public relations, Arkansas Farm Bureau. “For example, there are an awful lot of farms in Arkansas that operate on karst topography, and they have been there for decades. There are in fact procedures on how to deal with farm operations on karst. An argument seems to be suddenly that because this farm is located on karst topography, it can’t operate. How or why is this farm any different from those other farms who have been operating in the karst for decades?”

    Eddington said he thinks if the proposed permit is denied causing the hog farm to close, that would be tragic.

    “Our argument all along has been to let science rule,” Eddington said. “You can cherry pick data all you want and say this means that. And that isn’t how science works. It is a very emotional thing and I understand that. I’ve floated the Buffalo since we moved to Arkansas when I was in the sixth grade. It appears the argument gets framed like you have to be either for the Buffalo River or for C&H. That is just a short sighted and narrow view of world, in my opinion. I think you can be for both.”

    C&H co-owner Jason Henson, in an interview with KOLR-10 television in Springfield, Mo., in January, denied the operation is harming the Buffalo River.

    “Unfortunately, people are looking over the science and listening to emotion,” Henson said in the interview. “I think it’s political because the science is there to prove that we’re not doing anything wrong.”

    In the permit denial, the ADEQ discusses the finding that parts of both Big Creek and the Buffalo River are impaired for the pathogen E. Coli and for dissolved oxygen. ADEQ concludes C&H may be contributing to those poor water quality indicators.

    “In addition to this proposed listing of Big Creek and the Buffalo National River as impaired water bodies, the Big Creek Research Extension Team has documented an increase in nitrate-N near the facility,” the ADEQ said in its Statement of Basis for denying the permit. “In the April 1 to June 30, 2018 Quarterly Report, BCRET presented data that documents a statistically significant increase of nitrate-N in the ephemeral stream and the house well since 2014. Increased nitrate-N in both the ephemeral stream and the house well suggests that these systems may be hydrologically connected to areas where farm activities take place.”

    ADEQ also said data supplied from C&H shows that soil phosphorus for all fields receiving sprayed hog waste exceed recommended levels.

    EPA says nutrient pollution caused by excess nitrogen and phosphorus in the air and water is one of America’s most widespread, costly and challenging environmental problems. “Nutrient pollution has impacted many streams, rivers, lakes, bays and coastal waters for the past several decades, resulting in serious environmental and human health issues, and impacting the economy,” EPA said.

    Opponents of the hog operation have listed significant economic and environmental concerns. In January, USA Today listed the Buffalo River as the number one tourist attraction in Arkansas. A National Park Service report concludes the 1.5 million visitors to Buffalo National River in 2017 spent $62.6 million in communities near the park. The Park Service said that spending supported 911 jobs in the area.

    Written comments on the draft denial and requests for information regarding the draft denial may be submitted to ADEQ, Attn: C&H Draft Denial at 5301 Northshore Drive, North Little Rock, AR, 72118-5317, or by email at 

    Water-Draft-Permit-Comment@adeq.state.ar.us. There will also be a public hearing Oct. 9 at 5 p.m. at ADEQ, 5301 Northshore Drive in North Little Rock.

  • 22 Sep 2018 8:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    MASTERSON ONLINE: More Buffalo science

    By Mike Masterson

    Posted: September 22, 2018 at 2:32 a.m.


    A highly respected aquatic biologist and water-quality hydrologist who spent his distinguished career studying Ozark streams for the U.S. Geological Survey, examined four years of data collected by the research team monitoring C&H Hog Farms.


    And, as with other geoscientists, he's concerned over what's been learned and reported.


    Jim Petersen is a cautious scientist who speaks carefully so as not to overstate or unintentionally mislead. In a report prepared for the Ozark Society, he arrived at a number of troublesome conclusions when it came to the effect C&H is having on the Buffalo River and Big Creek, a major tributary, where swine waste for some five years has regularly been spread on surrounding fields, as well as seeping into the fractured karst subsurface that permeates the river's watershed.


    Petersen's analysis of water-quality data collected by the tax-supported Big Creek Research and Extension Team, focused on base-flow conditions, which occur when the stream flow is dominated by input from groundwater. Unfortunately, the Big Creek team is not accurately monitoring storm flow conditions when most of the waste continuously generated by the 6,500 swine at C&H can be expected to enter Big Creek.


    The big picture appears as bleak as many geoscientists and others have expected since 2013. He said results from various team monitoring sites, including those intended to monitor leakage from two waste holding lagoons, as well as the application fields where raw waste is spread, indicate "the [factory hog farm] is having a negative effect on the water quality of Big Creek during base flow."


    In other words, Big Creek, which has been classified as "impaired" (meaning not meeting water-quality standards for low dissolved oxygen and pathogens) since Petersen completed his review, appears to be receiving enough waste to show negative effects. Big Creek flows six miles downstream from C&H to join the Buffalo, portions of which now also are deemed impaired beneath their confluence for hazardous pathogens within massive overgrowths of algae.


    Petersen's reports also states, "the frequency and seasonal persistence of dissolved oxygen concentrations of Big Creek at Carver that are often substantially below the state standard may be causing detrimental effects on aquatic species and fish and macroinvertebrate (aquatic insects, etc.) communities of Big Creek and the Buffalo River. The proximity to the Buffalo River and anti-degradation policy concerns are another immediate concern."


    And that, valued readers, was determined months ago.

    There was more to concern Petersen. He said increasing trends in some nutrients, dissolved organic carbon, and E. coli in samples from Big Creek's monitoring site 4 (ephemeral stream) indicate inputs of these constituents to Big Creek are increasing and potentially affecting water quality of Big Creek near the hog farm and downstream.


    "If concentrations are increasing in base flow samples it is likely that concentrations in storm water also are increasing--and concentrations are almost certainly higher in the storm water than in base flow."


    At the risk of becoming overladen with scientific jargon, I'll take a stab anyway. Petersen explained that comparing concentrations of total nitrogen and total phosphorus (present in animal waste) at the Big Creek team's monitoring site downstream of the factory with biological thresholds for nutrients (fertilizers) in other comparable Ozark streams indicates existing concentrations are approaching (in the case of total nitrogen), or exceeding (regarding phosphorus) levels that affect aquatic life such as algae, insects and fish.


    Petersen found increasing trends in concentrations of three nitrogen constituents in samples from the Big Creek team's House Well site indicate contamination of the shallow groundwater aquifer. The steadily increasing pattern observed for several parameters indicates a constant input to the local aquifer feeding the well. Results at BC7 (the downstream site) also indicate a strong correlation between increasing nitrate concentrations during low-flow periods characterized by increased groundwater discharge.


    The scientist expressed particular concern over the lack of adequate storm-flow monitoring data at C&H. And if he is finding these disturbing results when there is no heavy rainfall, what's happening both atop and beneath the surface to these waste products during storms and sustained downpours?


    Trenches the Big Creek team dug below the waste ponds to monitor leakage also drew Petersen's attention. "Water quality from a trench downslope from the two waste holding ponds indicates that the contents from both ponds are seeping into the downslope trench," he wrote. In other words, the waste ponds show leakage.


    I keep hearing those who defend this badly misplaced hog factory complaining that supporters of the Buffalo River are basically irrational environmentalists with no science to support their concerns. I've seen a lot of late. Plus we all know that's just a crude attempt to vaguely smear the justified concerns of Arkansans and others nationwide who don't want to see this treasure spoiled today and for coming generations.


    An abundance of science is readily available. Petersen is but one of many respected geoscientists who have taken a look at the data and determined there is considerable and mounting evidence the hog factory is increasingly affecting Big Creek as its next million gallons of raw waste is regularly spread across pastures around and along this stream.


    Time is now

    The official period has opened for the public to comment on the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality's wise decision to deny the hog factory a Regulation 5 permit. Mine is submitted. It took four minutes. I continue to urge every Arkansan who cares about saving our now impaired national river to speak out until Oct. 17 on the department website at tinyurl.com/natriver, or by email at Water-Draft-Permit-Comment@adeq.state.ar.us.


    Those preferring to send a letter can address to: Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, Attn: C&H Draft Denial, 5301 Northshore Drive, North Little Rock, 72118.


  • 21 Sep 2018 11:15 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Channel 5 News


    Algae Concerns On The Buffalo River Addressed In Meeting

    POSTED 11:01 PM, SEPTEMBER 20, 2018, BY MEAGAN JOHNSON


    Fayetteville (KFSM) -- Some environmentalists worry that the Buffalo River could soon be taken over by algae. The Buffalo River Watershed Alliance held a meeting Thursday (Sept. 20) to discuss the concern about algae growth on the river.

    "It has gone from twenty miles of coverage which we thought was pretty high already, to seventy miles this year," said Martie Olesen with the Buffalo Watershed Alliance.

    Gordon Selckmann is an algae expert who has recently studied the Buffalo River. Selckmann said he has identified 2 types of algae growing on the Buffalo River. He says one type doesn't pose health concerns, but the other type could.

    Olesen said some people who have recently floated the river have reported minor health issues.

    "There have been skin rashes, fever. It's anecdotal, we don't have actual data on it but people have reported that to us," Olesen told 5NEWS.

    Selckmann said an increase of nutrients is often the cause for these specific algae buildups.

    "If you have a lot of animals in a small area and you have the right water to push those nutrients into the river you can see blooms from that."

    The Buffalo River Watershed Alliance said they have an idea of what is causing the miles of green, the C&H Hog Farm.

    The hog farm is on Big Creek, 6 miles from where it meets the Buffalo River.

    ''The problem it was placed in a karst location that is full of cracks that allow water, and whatever is in the water, on the fields to quickly transport into the creek and into the river,'' said Olesen.

    Monday (Sept. 17) state environmental regulators issued a public notice of a draft decision that would deny a permit for a large hog farm in the Buffalo River watershed.

    The public can write letters to state legislators with their thoughts about the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality denying the operating permit to C&H Hog Farm.

    C&H Hog Farm is now operating under an expired permit and houses about 6500 hogs.


  • 21 Sep 2018 8:31 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Desecration of river


    After reading your article on the front page of the Arkansas section Tuesday, "State notice on hog farm issued," I am confused. More information is needed. We, the ones who need to comment, need the email address, phone number and address of the meeting!


    I am very opposed to such a disgrace as this hog farm even within 100 miles of our beloved national river. Honestly, there is really not a place where the waste from 6,000 hogs will be safe.


    Good people of Arkansas, please speak out against even a slight desecration of the Buffalo River.


    BRENDA NORSWORTHY

    Pine Bluff

  • 21 Sep 2018 7:19 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Read the full article on this recent peer-reviewed study by Duke University   in the North Carolina Medical Journal


    Mortality and Health Outcomes in North Carolina Communities Located in Close Proximity to Hog Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations


    CONCLUSION North Carolina communities located near hog CAFOs had higher all-cause and infant mortality, mortality due to anemia, kidney disease, tuberculosis, septicemia, and higher hospital admissions/ED visits of Low Birth Weight infants.
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