Keep the Buffalo River Free of Hog Waste
The Buffalo National River in Northern Arkansas is the first national river established in 1972. It is one of the last undammed rivers in the lower 48 states and each year more than one million people take a float down a section of the 135 mile river. Tourism from this river supports approximately 969 jobs and results in over $72 million dollars in economic benefits.
In 2013, a large hog CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operation) was constructed less than 6 miles from the confluence with the Buffalo National River. It houses up to 6500 hogs that generate over 3 million gallons of hog waste annually. The waste is held in ponds and then spread over 17 different fields. The ponds and the manure fields are underlain with karst geology. This is a highly porous (think Swiss cheese) limestone that allows rapid transfer of water or nutrients.
Recent water quality results have shown that there is a high level of E. coli in the tributary of the Buffalo National River that is directly adjacent to the manure fields. Last week, an image generated from using Electric Resistivity Imaging (ERI) showed a huge plume of liquid underneath one of the hog ponds. It is highly suspicious indicating that the pond may be leaking into the ground water.
The governor needs to act immediately to stop the hog CAFO operation until a well can be dug to test the substance in the plume underneath the ponds. If it is found to contain hog waste, the operation should be shut down and a clean up plan developed and implemented to lessen the damage as much as possible to the groundwater, ecosystem, and national river. Then the facility should be closed.
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