The National Park Service has asked Arkansas to place Mill Creek, Big Creek, and Bear Creek on the 303(d) list, which would designate them as polluted waterways and allow ADEQ to conduct water-quality studies and implement discharge limits. ADEQ has so far refused to consider the data submitted by the Park Service because it occured after the designated time period. Read more about the issue here.
ADEQ announced today that it is extending the deadline for public comments on this issue. It will accept public comments until 4:30 p.m. on March 16th. The department will then consider the public's input when drafting the final list.
Here are tips for submitting a public comment:
A comment does not have to be complex - you can simply express your support for or disapproval of ADEQ's decision not to include the three creeks on the list. However, an informative and persuasive comment that clearly communicates your position and supports your claims is more likely to have an impact on regulatory decision making.
1) Learn about the issue
Read Noland Law Firm's previous post about the current debate over Arkansas's proposed 303(d) list. You can find additional information about the proposed 303(d) list here. You can read the letter submitted to ADEQ by the National Park Service urging them to include three creeks on the list here. You should also feel free to reach out to ADEQ with questions by contacting Sarah Clem, ADEQ Division of Water Quality Planning, at (501) 682-0660. Keep in mind, though, that public comments must be formally submitted in writing (your questions to ADEQ regarding the 303(d) list will not qualify as official public comments).
2) Be specific
It is important to state with specificity the part or parts of the proposed regulation you are commenting on. In this case, you will want to specify that your comment concerns ADEQ's failure to include the Mill Creek, Big Creek, and Bear Creek on the 303(d) list, as suggested by the National Park Service.
3) Be concise but support your claims
If your comments is based on your personal recreational use of the area, give specific examples. If you are including economic or scientific arguments, provide sound reasoning and evidence to support your claims. There is no minimum or maximum length for an effective comment.
4) The comment process is not a vote
While advocacy organizations often ask their supporters to sign off on a form-letter comment, one well-written individual comment is often more influential than a thousand form letters.
5) Be aware of the deadline
Public comments regarding ADEQ's proposed 2016 303(d) list must be submitted before 4:30 p.m. central standard time on March 16, 2016.
6) Identify credentials and experience that may distinguish your comments from others
If you are commenting in an area in which you have relevant personal or professional experience (i.e., scientist, attorney, fisherman, business owner, etc.), say so.
7) Include examples of how the proposed rule would impact you negatively or positively
In the current debate over Mill Creek, Big Creek, and Bear Creek, which are tributaries to the Buffalo River, it would be relevant to discuss how pollution in those waterways would impact your recreational or business activities.