The last piglet at C&H was weened a couple of weeks ago and all hogs are due to be gone by January 2020. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will then proceed with the closure and remediation of the waste lagoons.
The next step, making the temporary moratorium on medium and large swine CAFO’s permanent, was put on hold at the October 25, 2019 meeting of the Arkansas Pollution, Control & Ecology Commission (APC&E) when they unexpectedly voted to extend the comment period 90 days. The reason for the extension was the publication of the Big Creek Research and Extension Team’s (BCRET) final report.
The new deadline is now January 22, 2020. Although the initial 400 positive comments (out of 402) will be counted this time, we ask that Ozark Society members add additional comments in support of the DEQ rule change. Electronic submission: http://water.adeq.commentinput.com/?id=6pAef.
The 300+ page BCRET report, available at the BCRET website, is highly technical but with readable summaries.
While opponents of the moratorium will latch onto the phrase that C&H has had a “limited impact” on the Buffalo River, there is strong evidence that the Big Creek watershed has been contaminated with excess nutrients. This includes ever rising nitrate levels in the well and ephemeral stream adjacent to the lagoons, elevated nitrate levels in ground water (downstream levels are more than twice as high as upstream levels), and elevated field phosphorus levels much beyond agronomic needs. For instance, the BCRET report supports limiting phosphorus (P) applications to less than now commonly used on CAFO’s,
“Future additions of any nutrients … should be carefully managed so as to not lead to increases in soil test P. … where P applied is equivalent to expected forage uptake rates.” That is to say, good farming is not waste dumping.
Comments do not need to be lengthy or technical. We need to stress that hog CAFO’s are inconsistent with the health of the first national river, and that Arkansas should avoid any future lengthy battles and buyouts. Suggested talking points will soon be posted on the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance (BRWA) website.
A complete listing of the proposed changes to Regulation 5 can be found on the Draft Regulations page of the website: https://www.adeq.state.ar.us/regs/drafts/reg05/19-002-R/ under APC&EC Docket #19-002-R.