Yesterday, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality ("ADEQ") hosted a meeting and public hearing regarding Arkansas's draft 303(d) list. The 303(d) list, prepared bi-annually pursuant to the Clean Water Act, catalogues streams and lakes which do not meet water quality criteria for pollutants, such as minerals or nutrients, or do not meet conditions such as temperature or dissolved oxygen content.
Public comment and questions to ADEQ staff focused on two issues: the availability of data used to prepare the list, and a trio of tributaries to the Buffalo National River which the National Park Service requested that ADEQ include on the list via a letter in October of 2015. The Park Service contends water samples it collected indicate Mill Creek near Pruitt (E. coli.), Bear Creek near Silver Hill (dissolved oxygen), and Big Creek at Carver (dissolved oxygen) do not meet water quality criteria standards, and should be listed as impaired on the 303(d) list.
Inclusion on the 303(d) list results in additional monitoring, discharge permit scrutiny, and potentially a Total Maximum Daily Load ("TMDL") study and implementation. A TMDL is a pollution diet for a stream which is meant to bring it into compliance with water quality criteria, and off the 303(d) list.
Additional information and data is found on the ADEQ website. Public comments on the draft 303(d) list are due to ADEQ by March 11, 2016, at 4:30 p.m. You may submit comments via mail to Jim Wise, ADEQ, Water Division, 5301 Northshore Dr., North Little Rock, AR 72118, or by email.