C and H HOG FARM: Deal struck to end operation. KAT WILSON

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has recommended denial of a new permit for discharge of waste by the C and H Hog Farm in Newton County.

Reasons cited include the underlying karst geology, which can allow waste to migrate and contaminate groundwater. Karst requires special design considerations for containing waste, the department said. It also said that the existing operation may be contributing through application of waste on fields to impaired quality of Big Creek and the Buffalo River.


The decision is by the Office of Water Quality for a permit for storage and land application of liquid waste. It will be open for public comment for 30 days. A public hearing will be held Oct. 9.

Here’s the basis for the recommended denial of the permit.


Here’s the order.

After the comment period, the decision will be up to the director of the department, Becky Keogh. Her decision could be appealed to the Pollution Control and Ecology Commission,  which is polluter-friendly. But in this case it will face some of the strongest scientific findings yet on the danger to the Buffalo River watershed of pumping out 3 million gallons of hog waste every year. The farm feeds about 3,000 hogs.


The hog farm slid into operation out of public view by applying initially for a general discharge permit that doesn’t require a public hearing process. Once approved, it began the application for what’s known as a regulation five permit, which is the type denied today.

The Pollution Control Commission has ruled that the earlier permit will die if the regulation 5 permit is denied. C and H, backed by Arkansas Farm Bureau, is fighting this in circuit court. Buffalo River preservation groups are attempting to intervene.

The Buffalo River groups, such as the Buffalo River Alliance and Ozark Society, say the science shows the hog farm is the biggest single source of nutrients contributing to pollution in the Buffalo River, bigger than any town in the watershed. The hog farm tries to blame the pollution on canoers, but the nutrient load is coming from tributaries into which runoff from C and H and other agricultural operations run.  Hog waste runs downhill, the opponents say.