Good story from Emily Walkenhorst in the Democrat-Gazette on the latest research from the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Park Service and the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality on pollution in the Buffalo River watershed.
Preliminary results of the studies, presented by the U.S. Geological Survey to the Beautiful Buffalo River Action Committee this month, found increased pollution in the groundwater, as well as algae growth that now affects nearly half of the 150-mile Buffalo River. These issues were among the concerns raised by activists opposed to the presence of C&H Hog Farms, the 3,000-hog feeding operation located by a tributary of the Buffalo. However, these preliminary findings have not proven a direct link between the pollution and algae and the presence of the hog feeding operation. The studies are ongoing, and could take years.
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The ADEQ denied a waste disposal permit for C&H last week. That decision will almost certainly be appealed by C&H, which continues to operate despite the expiration of its permit two years ago. ADEQ denied the permit for disposal of liquid hog waste based upon its review of evidence of environmental risk — due to the underlying karst geology, which can allow waste to seep through and contaminate groundwater, as well as the impacts of land-applied waste washing into the nearby Big Creek, a tribute of the Buffalo River, and eventually into the Buffalo itself.