|Volume VII, Issue 10||March 11, 2013|
Concern over CAFO in Buffalo River Watershed
By: David Casaletto, Executive Director, Ozarks Water Watch
A few years ago a business applied for a permit for a poultry operation near Roaring River in Missouri. At the time there was great concern over the location and the potential for pollution to the river and Table Rock Lake. These concerns were passed along to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the agency that issues the CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operation) permits, who replied that the business had complied with all the laws and rules of the State of Missouri and there was no legal reason to deny the permit based on location and the operation was constructed. (To my knowledge there has so far not been any documented pollution of Roaring River from this CAFO.)
A similar situation is now happening in the Buffalo River watershed in Arkansas. A large hog farming operation is under construction on Dry Creek, a tributary of Big Creek, which feeds into the Buffalo River. The operation is located 1.6 miles west of Mt. Judea, AR in Newton County. In this newsletter I am bringing you information I have gathered from various sources on this issue. I have done my best to find the most accurate information but if errors are found, please bring them to my attention. I have included links throughout this article to various documents and information for those who would like to learn more.
|Buffalo River, Arkansas|
The Buffalo River was the first National River to be designated in the United States by an Act of Congress on March 1, 1972 which ended the plans to construct one or more dams on the river. The National River designation protects natural rivers from industrial uses, impoundments and other obstructions that may change the natural character of the river or disrupt the natural habitat for the flora and fauna that live in or near the river. The Buffalo River is slightly more than 150 miles long. The lower 135 miles flow within the boundaries of an area managed by the National Park Service, where the stream is designated the Buffalo National River.
The river flows through Newton, Searcy, Marion, and Baxter Counties, from west to east. The river originates in the highest part of Boston Mountains of the Ozarks, flows out onto the Springfield Plateau near the historic community of Erbie, and finally crosses the Salem Plateau just before joining the White River. The Park is home to the Arkansas's only elk herd. The upper section of the river in the Ozark National Forest is managed by the U.S. Forest Service and is designated as a National Scenic River and a National Wild River.
|Buffalo River Watershed map.|
Click HERE for larger map.
The CAFO under construction is known as "C & H Hog Farm". Its treatment facility consists of in house shallow pits with a capacity of 759,542 gallons, a settling basin with capacity of 831,193 gallons and a holding pond with capacity of 1,904,730 gallons. The facility applied for permit
from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality
(ADEQ) in 2012. ADEQ approved the permit by a letter dated August 3, 2012
and that letter refers to a General CAFO Permit
. The waste is to be land applied on the facility's 630.7 acres. If a discharge of pollutants from a manure or wastewater storage structure occurs it is to be sampled and analyzed for the parameters listed in the general permit and the ADEQ Water Enforcement Division must be notified within 30 days of the discharge. All of the fields and facilities are above the 100 year flood level. The fields will be used for hay and pasture and the permit states that "land application areas will receive application at rates consistent with infiltration capabilities of the native soil so that there is no runoff".
|The author with granddaughter Madison|
hiking near the Buffalo River.
Many people nationwide have grown to love and cherish the Buffalo River and its many hiking trails and natural beauty. So, understandably so, emotions run high when any potential threat to this national treasure is perceived. But the issues are the same as I listed for the CAFO at Roaring River. The C & H Hog Farm has followed all the laws and rules of the State of Arkansas. Moreover, they have operated a hog facility at another location for 10 years with no violations. And at this time, it is a pollution threat that has not yet happened. ADEQ has little choice other than to issue the permit.
There is an agency, the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission
(APCEC), that could issue a moratorium. There are two provisions in the Arkansas Code related to the Commission's authority to issue moratoriums. The first is an emergency moratorium that lasts only for 180 days and relates to imminent peril to the public health, safety, or welfare. A temporary moratorium would do very little to protect the Buffalo River long-term.
The second provision of Arkansas law related to moratoriums provides the APCEC with the authority to promulgate rules and regulations, including water quality standards and the classification of the waters of the state and moratoriums or suspensions of the processing of types or categories of permits. This section of the Arkansas code provides the APCEC the authority to issue a moratorium or suspension through rulemaking.
However, it does not seem that either provision gives the APCEC the authority to issue a moratorium and confine that moratorium just to a geographic area within the state. These provisions of the law provide the APCEC with the authority to issue a moratorium or suspension of the processing of types or categories of permits. In this instance, if the APCEC believed it had been provided sufficient scientific or engineering reasons to justify the issuance of a moratorium or suspension it would have to suspend the General Permit (a statewide permit) in its entirety. That suspension and moratorium would have to apply statewide, not just to the Buffalo River watershed. A more sound approach might be a modification of the existing General Permit, or perhaps rulemaking, or both, to address this issue. This topic will most likely be discussed at the next APCEC meeting in March. As with most issues, we discover changes that may need to to be made to our laws and rules as an issue arises. I would encourage everyone to become well informed on all sides of the issue and work within the system to make changes if needed.
The Ozarks Society: Conservation Issue: Hog Farm Near Big Creek
Facebook Group: My Buffalo River
KUAF / NPR Radio 91.3 FM is scheduled to report about the CAFO on the Big Creek Tributary of the Buffalo National River Tuesday March 12th at 12 (NOON) CST on their daily news hour 'Ozarks at Large' and the broadcast will be repeated at 7:00PM. For those of you outside of their listening area, (Northwest Arkansas), the broadcast can be streamed at www.KUAF.com and if you can't tune in live or miss the stream, the report will be archived as a podcast available for free download in the iTunes store under 'Ozarks at Large.'
Quote of the Week
"A Waterwheel accepts water and turns and gives it away"
Arkansas Senate passes property rights bill
March 6, 2013
LITTLE ROCK - Legislation that would allow compensation to private property owners whose property loses fair market value because of a government regulation barely cleared the Senate on Wednesday. The property rights measure, Senate Bill 367 by Sen. Jim Hendren, R-Gravette, passed 18-13 with no votes to spare and goes to the House."The purpose of this is to re-establish the balance that needs to be there between those who want to regulate ... property for public good and the individual land owner," Hendren told Senate colleagues.
Sens. Robert Thompson, D-Paragould, and David Johnson, D-Little Rock, countered that the measure could curb zoning by local governments and hinder any potential agreement in the ongoing Maumelle watershed debate. Under the bill, if a property owner can successfully demonstrate in court that the fair market value of his or her property has been reduced by at least 10 percent by state or city regulation, law or ordinance, the owner would be owed that amount, Hendren said. "This bill does not prohibit zoning," Hendren said. "It does not prohibit regulation. It does not prohibit anything you can't do now."
Thompson said the bill was broad and that it would make zoning at the local level more difficult. Johnson suggested that if a land owner in the Lake Maumelle watershed planned to build a certain number of homes per acre, but Pulaski County set the limit lower, the property owner could go to court arguing the regulation cause him or her to lose money. Hendren said that would be up to a jury to decide.
Sen. Jake Files, R-Fort Smith, said he was having a difficult time opposing the bill "because it would be perceived as voting against private property rights."
Hendren said the bill would "help some farmer out there on 200 acres, who has had his farm for generations with the intent of being able to build homes for his kids and his grand kids, but then for the public good we decide that we're prohibiting him from building on that property, after he has already held that land for generations."
To read more, Click HERE
Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission Issues Public Notice for Proposed Changes to Regulations 2 and 19
Environmental, Energy, and Water Blog
The Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission ("Commission") has issued Public Notices for proposed changes to Regulation 2 and 19. The Commission will hold four public hearings during April, 2013 to receive comments on proposed changes to Regulation 2 (Arkansas Water Quality Standards) that had been developed through the Triennial review process. The deadline for submitting written comments on the proposed changes is 4:30 p.m., May 8, 2013.
The schedule for public hearings on Regulation 2 is as follows:
* April 15, Jonesboro: Allen Park Community Center, 3609 Race Street, 6:00 p.m.
* April 18, Fayetteville: Room 219, Fayetteville City Administration Building, 113 W. Mountain Street, 6:00 p.m.
* April 22, El Dorado: South Arkansas Community College, East Campus, Workforce Development Building, 3696 E. Main Street, 6:00 p.m.
* April 24, Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Headquarters Building Commission Room, 5301 Northshore Drive, North Little Rock, 2:00 p.m.
Proposed changes to the Regulation include issues such as:
* Critical flow
* Reformatting of the bacteria criteria
* Addition of site specific nutrient criteria for Beaver Lake
* Reformatting of the site specific mineral criteria in Reg. 2.511
* Addition of endangered, threatened, or endemic species to some currently designated ecologically sensitive waterbody stream segments in Appendix A
* Removal of certain stream segments from the Site Specific Standards Variation Supported by Use Attainability Analysis listing in Appendix A due to EPA disapproval
* Updating the maps in Appendix A
To read more, Click HERE.
Migrating pelicans an impressive sight at Lake Springfield
March 7, 2013
(Editor's note: I observed a flock of pelicans on Lake Taneycomo near Rockaway Beach on Thursday, March 7th.)
The first time he saw them a few years back, Jon Chamberlin thought they were trash bags floating across Lake Springfield. But when the "bags" eventually took off and flew away, he knew he was seeing something unusual. The trash bags turned out to be American White Pelicans. "In '09 or 2010, two huge flocks came through, like 70 birds per flock," said Chamberlin, manager of the Lake Springfield Boathouse and Marina. "They seem to migrate in and out, and we usually see them for a few weeks around this time, but by the end of March they'll be gone."
Monday morning, I ventured out with my camera to see if these spectacular black-and-white birds were still at the lake. They were. Unlike Gulf Coast brown pelicans that dive bomb headfirst from great heights into the water to snag fish, American White Pelicans use a different strategy, which I could easily observe from the Lake Springfield shoreline. The birds slowly paddle on the surface and herd schools of fish into shallow water.
As if on cue, they spread their wings to frighten the fish into a tighter ball, then plunge their beaks deep into the water and scoop as many fish as they can into their stretchable throat pouches. Fish sometimes can be seen wriggling frantically in the pelican's pouch before they're gulped down for a late-winter snack.
To read more, Click: HERE.
OZARKS WATER WATCH MISSOURI OFFICE ARKANSAS OFFICE
David Casaletto, President PO Box 636, 2 Kissee Ave., Ste. C 1200 W. Walnut, Ste. 3405
(417) 739-5001 Kimberling City, MO 65686 Rogers, AR 72756