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Petition on water on panel's agenda

The Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission is to meet Friday to consider an industry petition to begin a rule-making process to remove the drinking water designation for a tributary of Brushy Creek in northeast Arkansas.

Company representatives often appear before the commission after ordering studies of the waters they discharge into to support raising limits for minerals in those waters. They contend that meeting the state's minerals standards is financially impossible in many places because of the process required to clean up their discharged wastewater.

Also, Vulcan Construction Materials, which owns and operates the limestone Black Rock Quarry in Lawrence County, is asking the commission to change the drinking water site-specific water quality standards for that area, which is currently subject to regional standards.

By default, all surface waters in Arkansas have drinking water designations.

The unnamed tributary of Brushy Creek is considered "impaired" for not meeting drinking water standards because of high levels of total dissolved solids. The tributary is not used for drinking water.

The regional standards for the Ozark Ecoregion are 13 milligrams per liter of chloride, 17 milligrams per liter of sulfate and 240 milligrams per liter of total dissolved solids.

The company contends that state regulations for waters independent of the ecoregion set drinking water quality standards at 250, 250 and 500 milligrams per liter of chlorides, sulfates and total dissolved solids, respectively. The company wants to change the standards for sulfate and total dissolved solids in three spots, to allow total dissolved solids to be as high as 725 milligrams per liter and sulfates to be as high as 260 milligrams per liter at Vulcan's discharge point.

After an analysis showed that Vulcan's discharge into the tributary could cause the tributary to not meeting drinking water standards, its permit was renewed with a 500 milligrams of total dissolved solids per liter of water monthly average limit.

That increased to 750 milligrams per liter in 2008 until the company could complete the rule-making process, through approval or denial, for Vulcan's request to change the water quality standards.

The company has commissioned studies to assert its proposal's limited impact on habitat and aquatic life and showing that the tributary's low flow prevents it from attaining its domestic water supply designated use.

Conservation cash offered for farms

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service is offering more than $2 million to agriculture producers in several east Arkansas counties for the installation of conservation practices.

The service announced the funding last week. It's designed for water conservation projects that would help stabilize the Mississippi River Valley Alluvial Aquifer and Sparta Aquifer, according to the announcement.

Agriculture producers in Arkansas and Prairie counties are eligible for the money, as well as agriculture producers in parts of Craighead, Cross, Lonoke, Poinsett and St. Francis counties, the news release states. They can apply through July 19.

Priority projects include converting groundwater irrigation to surface water irrigation, installing permanent well meters, and reducing overall water usage via managing irrigation waters or making water distribution more efficient.

The funding is through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and people can sign up for the program at their local USDA field service center, which they can find at

Metro on 06/23/2019

Print Headline: Petition on water on panel's agenda Conservation cash offered for farms


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Archived Comments

  • Jfish
    June 23, 2019 at 7:25 a.m.

    If you cannot meet the standards, just ask the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission to change them, and knowing Arkansas, they will. Great job Vulcan Construction Materials and Black Rock Quarry for helping keeping the Natural State natural, or maybe we should say Naturally Impaired.

  • Illinoisroy
    June 23, 2019 at 8:06 a.m.

    There is a process to allow for these types of variance based on cost benefit analysis however it should be noted that all waters are interconnected therefore somewhere downstream someone will utilize as a drinking water source. There will also be a significant impact on ecological habitat for aquatic and terrestrial critters. What they are really proposing is "dilution as best solution to pollution." Just say no, proper waste treatment and disposal is the cost of doing business.

  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    June 23, 2019 at 11:50 a.m.

    If they cant do business in Arkansas without making the water dirty, do we really need them?
    "People forget how fast you did your job, but they remember how well you did it"

  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    June 23, 2019 at 11:54 a.m.

    There is only one answer, red or blue or gray I hope you take the steps with me.
    Call your congress, call your senator, call your representation and demand clean drinking water.