Story Date: Friday, July 14, 20069 (Russellville
This water quality controversy is more than just a
Russellville vs. Dardanelle matter. Much of this water also goes to rural
Yell County areas and up Highway 22 to Logan County. Last year, these wells
provided more than 39 million gallons to Northeast Yell County Association,
and this rate has been reached already half-way through 2006. The "tail
may be wagging the dog," but Russellville tinkering with water quality
is a multi-county regional issue.
In a May 2002, good-faith effort to resolve this sewer
outfall dispute, both cities entered into a Joint Resolution Agreement to
locate it "to a point downstream of the present city limits of
Dardanelle on the Arkansas River."
Russellville now refuses to comply.
Part of government by the people is their obligation to
participate in these type public decisions. Regulations assume only folks
commenting have an interest one way or the other. Thus, the Arkansas
Department Environmental Quality is asking Dardanelle, rural water system
users and others to comment on Russellville's City Corp. permit application
AR0021768 proposing to move its sewer outfall to the river, plus reduce
treatment and lower water quality standards. Russellville folks are
encouraged to comment also, for several are among 5,000 who signed the 1998
Needless to say, actions likely to harm Arkansas River
quality remain controversial with Dardanelle City officials, recreation
users, boaters, anglers, park interest, municipal water users and Friends of
the River homeowners. Yell County Wildlife Federation and the Arkansas Bass
Federation formally objected to the application eight years ago, largely in
concern to protect drift fishing, bass angling and recreation between
Riverside Park and the dam.
Likely impacts reveal a broad range of affected interests
that deserve a hard look through expanded alternative solutions, not likely
to come about though short of forcing a full Environmental Impact Statement.
As wastewater SEWAGE now travels Whig
Creek, contaminants are lowered and water quality improves, a cleansing
function lost through using a pipeline. Thus exchanging Whig Creek for a pipe
will degrade quality. Recent water quality restoration projects in south
Florida have proven this fact. Continuing the present system may be the best
solution, referred to as No Action Alternative.
The river belongs to all the people, and it'd be great if
Russellville leaders cared as much about its health as Dardanelle and Yell
County folks. This 7.3-million-gallon daily SEWAGE
discharge is only the beginning and, early on, Russellville officials
acknowledged it's likely to expand many times over.
Following eight years of debate and editorial comment, it
is interesting and sometimes entertaining to go back through some of these
past Courier articles. Regarding similarity of Russellville's convoluted
argument opposing Dover's proposed SEWAGE
treatment plant versus Dardanelle situation, Roy Ockert Jr. 3-12-2000
editorial states, "The hypocrisy of the two positions is hard to defend.
Being a good neighbor is important." Another issue is cook the books
Data Quality produced by consulting firms for these type of controversies.
Allen Kimbell writes 10-7-01, "If a project for a client appears
unrealistic, substantial future income flies out the window, therefore they
must support data aiding their client's goals, or they cease to exist."
So much for Data Quality Act (PL 106-554). Another
Arkansas Game and Fish biologist on 9-13-98 suggests all should be trying to
clean up the river, not pollute it more, and concluded, "City Corp. is
concerned only about the almighty dollar." Protecting water is
controversial but shouldn't be.
For those who care, get comments in by July 12 to Mr. Mo
Shafii, Permit # AR0021768, ADEQ, PO Box 8913, Little Rock, AR 72219-8913.