I’ve previously written about our state Department of Environmental Quality’s (cough) decision not to honor requests from the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey to include three Ozark streams flowing in the Buffalo National River watershed on the agency’s 2016 list of impaired waterbodies.
The request from the National Park Service, supported by hard science, supposedly arrived too late for inclusion to the list required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Those following this sad saga of our state wrongheadedly allowing C&H Hog Farms to spray raw waste from up to 6,500 swine along Big Creek that flows into the national river only 6.8 miles downstream already know of the diligence and volunteer water-quality testing conducted by Dr. John Van Brahana and his team since the factory opened.
Because I and many others consider Brahana, among the nation’s foremost experts on the karst terrain that underlies the Ozarks, to be objective and far beyond qualified to conduct such tests in the public interest, I also appreciated the comments he recently sent to Michael Lamoureax, Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s chief of staff. I can only hope the governor reads them as well.
Brahana was among many to recently comment publicly on the decision not to follow the request of the Park Service by adding those three streams to its impaired list.
Here’s what he told those who make decisions supposedly in the best interests of all voting and taxpaying people our state, a far greater number, I might add, than the campaign-contributing special interests who are fighting to keep this hog factory continually spreading raw waste into the watershed.
“Having just read Charles J. ‘Chuck’ Bitting’s eloquent and moving letter describing facts regarding the decision of your agency to ignore data collected after March 31, 2015, and not list Mill Creek, Big Creek, and Bear Creek as being impaired, I am disheartened and deeply disappointed.
“I am a 25+ year citizen of Arkansas, a research scientist emeritus (water scientist) of the U.S. Geological Survey, and a professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas (karst hydrogeologist), having devoted the last 25+ years to studying the waters of our natural state. I have seen these streams, I have been in the field with some of the scientists who have collected these data, and they have been thorough and accurate and fair. These are meaningful data.
“I feel compelled to add my voice to request strongly that you reconsider this decision, for it flies in the face of Regulation 2. It also flies in the face of the science of data collected by the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Park System, and it gives the appearance of political favoritism that ignores the natural environment of our beautiful state. It comes at the expense of negatively impacting tourism that contributes tens of millions of dollars to this fiscally depressed region.
“Please place Mill Creek, Big Creek, and Bear Creek on the 303(d) list as required by Regulation 2. Please join all Arkansas citizens in collaborating with science and common sense. Please.”
This column appeared in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on March 22, 2016. Used by permission.