Wednesday, December 18, 2013

ADEQ continues study and public comment on 'General storm water permit'

Stormwater permit under review again

State revises guidelines every five years

Posted: December 17, 2013 at 5 a.m.
The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality is reviewing one of the most commonly held permits in the state, the general permit for stormwater runoff.
The general permit, held by almost 2,000 permanent facilities and thousands more entities engaged in temporary construction projects, governs how permit holders must deal with the runoff that results when rainfall hits impermeable surfaces such as asphalt.
The stormwater generalpermit outlines how holders must manage stormwater discharge with respect to state waterways and sewer systems in an effort to minimize the pollution by bacteria and other materials - often sediment dislodged during construction activities - of waters that are often current or potential drinking-water supplies.
Ryan Benefield, deputy director for the Environmental Quality Department, said the stormwater permit is one of the department’s most widely held permits throughout the state, and even minorchanges to its language during the renewal process can have major effects on permit holders.
“It’s a very significant effort we take on every five years,” Benefield said.
The current version of the general permit expires June 30. It spans more than 40 pages and has specific stormwater control requirements for more than 30 sectors of industry including timber and leather tanning. The permit is part of a larger family of regulations known as the National Pollutant DischargeElimination System, mandated by the federal Clean Water Act.
According to documents from the Environmental Quality Department, the current renewal process began with a stakeholders workshop in May. After the workshop, a draft of the updated permit was submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency, which monitors state environmental regulatory agencies to ensure compliance with federal guidelines.
After the EPA approved the draft in early November, the Environmental Quality Department opened a public comment period that ended Friday, concluding in a public hearing for the permit at the department’s North Little Rock headquarters.
Representatives of about a dozen entities filed comments with the department, mostly over small details.
Stephen Cain, an environmental compliance manager with the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation in Little Rock, said the current renewal of the state’s stormwater general permit is his fourth experience with the process since beginning work at the cooperative about 15 years ago.
In a four-page letter dated Dec. 9, Cain outlined five concerns with the new permit, including the department’s decision to move limits for liquid waste known as “effluent” out of a separate document called a stormwater pollution prevention plan and into the state permit. Cain said this would add another regulatory layer, unnecessarily restricting businesses’ ability to cope with problems as they arise.
“The things that are required are all things I’d call ‘good business practices’ anyway, but when [the Environmental Quality Department] moves them into a permit, they’re making them a criteria that you must live by,” Cain said.
Benefield said moving theeffluent limitations to the permit, rather than requiring permit holders to address them in their stormwater protection plans, was in keeping with the EPA’s national permit.
Charles Nestrud, a lawyer with Chisenhall, Nestrud and Julian in Little Rock who said he has worked in environmental law for about 35 years, submitted comments to the department on behalf of his client Riceland Foods Inc.
Nestrud, along with other commenters including Cain, complained that some of the permit’s wording was ambiguous, especially as it related to effluent limitations.
“You just want to be clear on the front end,” Nestrud said. “I think that was the gist on the part of my client. If you don’t know you’re out of compliance until an inspector shows up and tells you, that is not a good situation.”
Cain also worried that anything not “nailed down” in the language of the permit would leave his industry at the mercy of individual inspectors.
“Two inspectors may look at the same thing completely differently, because it’s subjective,” Cain said. “To me, it opens the door to subjective inspections.”
Stormwater runoff in Northwest Arkansas is of particular importance to the Beaver Water District, one of four water districts to draw drinking water from Beaver Lake. The lake is the primary source of drinking water for about 420,000 residents, and draws its water through a 1,200-square-mile watershed that spans Benton, Carroll, Washington and Madison counties.
Stormwater runoff, which district chief operating officer Alan Fortenberry said is already considered the lake’s main source of pollution, is likely to become even more of a problem as modern development continues to expand into rural areas of the watershed.
According to the Beaver Lake Watershed Protection Strategy, presented in a symposium earlier this year by the Beaver Lake Watershed Alliance, municipal areas inNorthwest Arkansas - primarily Rogers, Springdale and Fayetteville - are anticipated to double by 2050, vastly increasing the amount of asphalt and other impermeable materials in the watershed.
Fortenberry said one premise of the general permit is that it makes exclusions for construction zones and other activity in areas where runoff would likely impact bodies of water termed “extraordinary resource waters,” “ecologically sensitive waterbodies,” and “natural and scenic waterways,” requiring entities to acquire individual stormwater runoff permits.
Comments submitted to the Environmental Quality Department from the district’s staff attorney, Colene Gaston, pushed for the Environmental Quality Department to extend that philosophy to permits granted for activity where runoff would likely affect sources of drinking water - such as Beaver Lake - that don’t necessarily receive any of the special designations mentioned above.
Fortenberry said he would like to see such activity near drinking-water sources require individual permits and the elevated level of regulatory scrutiny that goes along with them, although he understood it was unrealistic to expect the Environmental Quality Department to require individual stormwater runoff permits for everyone doing business within the watershed.
“Philosophically, you have to think about how far to take that,” Fortenberry said. “If we had our way, we wouldn’t want to see anyone contaminate the entire watershed, but we realize that’s a stretch. So with this regulation, we’re looking at people polluting streams that feed into the White River and Beaver Lake.”
“There’s always balance,” Nestrud said. “If things are necessary to protect the environment, they get adopted. And then there’s what goes too far, and interferes with industry’s ability to operate. Every time there’s a proposal, you’ve got to strike that balance.”
Northwest Arkansas, Pages 9 on 12/17/2013

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Newsletter of Beaver Watershed Alliance

Beaver Watershed Alliance newsletterfile://localhost/Volumes/FREEAGENT/BeaverWatShedAllianceReport%20copy.rtfd/

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

EPA water headlines

Please click on various live links on the file to read more detail.
Water: Water Headlines

Water Headlines

Water Headlines is a weekly publication that announces publications, policies, and activities of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Water.

Water Headlines for the Week of August 6, 2013 

1) EPA Hosting Webcast Series to Raise Awareness about Harmful Algal Blooms
2) EPA Advisor Honored by Association of Clean Water Administrators
3) EPA Providing Funding to Assist Small Water and Wastewater Systems
4) Success Spotlight: Wilmington, Delaware's Renewable Energy Biosolids Facility
5) EPA Features Locally Led Efforts in Urban Water Restoration via Video Series
6) National Estuary Program Success Stories: Maryland Coastal Bays Program Develops a Poultry Digester, Providing a Beneficial Use of Manure

1) EPA Hosting Webcast Series to Raise Awareness about Harmful Algal Blooms On August 20, 2013, EPA's Watershed Academy will host a webcast on the identification and monitoring of harmful algal blooms. Don Anderson from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Steve Morton from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will continue the series with a discussion of innovative methods for identifying these algae and their blooms, and how both government and research institutions and even the public can help to monitor their outbreak and spread. This webcast series is a part of a broader outreach effort this summer that aims to focus public attention on harmful algal blooms, which are associated with nutrient pollution, and can sicken people and pets, devastate aquatic ecosystems, and be a detriment to the economy. To register, visit  You can also help document and raise awareness about algal blooms by photographing them and posting your photos to our State of the Environment photo project 
2) EPA Advisor Honored by Association of Clean Water AdministratorsEPA Office of Water Senior Policy Advisor Ellen Gilinsky has been chosen as the Association of Clean Water Administrators' "Environmental Partnership Award" recipient for 2012 for her work to seek out state involvement and input in water regulatory and policy decision making and implementation. This award is presented to individuals who have, throughout their careers, demonstrated a true and consistent willingness to work cooperatively with states and other organizations to effect environmental improvement. For more information on ACWA's annual awards, go to!awards
3) EPA Providing Funding to Assist Small Water and Wastewater SystemsEPA will award up to $12.7 million for projects to provide training and technical assistance to small public water systems, small publicly-owned wastewater systems, and communities served by onsite or decentralized wastewater systems, and private well owners. More than 97 percent of the nation's 157,000 public water systems serve fewer than 100,000 people and more than 80 percent of these systems serve fewer than 500 people. Many small systems face unique challenges in providing reliable drinking water and wastewater services that meet federal and state regulations. These challenges can include a lack of financial resources, aging infrastructure, management limitations and high staff turnover. The funding will help provide water system staff with training and tools to enhance system operations and management practices, achieve and maintain compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act and support EPA's continuing efforts to protect public health and promote sustainability in small communities.For more information:
4) Success Spotlight: Wilmington, Delaware's Renewable Energy Biosolids Facility EPA's Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) programs provide funding for water quality protection projects for wastewater treatment, nonpoint source pollution control, and watershed and estuary management. This week's success spotlight shines on the City of Wilmington, Delaware. Using a $36 million CWSRF loan, the city's Hay Road Wastewater Treatment Plant began construction of a renewable energy biosolids facility in June 2012. The new facility will incorporate a number of sustainable energy technologies, including: (1) using methane captured from the plant digesters and an adjacent landfill to power the plant, and (2) employing thermal drying technology, which uses excess heat from electricity generation to reduce the volume of biosolids produced by the plant. When complete, the facility, which is the city's largest energy user, could be powered 100% by the renewable energy being generated. More information:
5) EPA Features Locally Led Efforts in Urban Water Restoration via Video SeriesEPA has released Urban Waters Voices, a series of 12 video interviews featuring locally led efforts to restore urban waters in communities across the United States. These videos feature local efforts and strategies to improve urban water quality while advancing local community priorities. This week's video features Mary Rickel Pelletier, Director of Park Watershed, Inc., describing some of the challenges faced by watershed communities in Hartford, Connecticut (e.g. lack of access and lack of awareness of the "buried" river) and how the organization is using art and science to address these challenges. Park Watershed, Inc., a nonprofit organization (formerly Park River Watershed Revitalization Initiative), sees its goal as working through community engagement, scientific research, and ecological revitalization to cultivate clean water and healthy urban environments within the municipalities of the Park River regional watershed. Watch the video.
6) National Estuary Program Success Stories: Maryland Coastal Bays Program Develops a Poultry Digester, Providing a Beneficial Use of Manure
The Maryland Coastal Bays Program has worked with designers of proprietary equipment to provide a beneficial use of poultry manure, including providing advice on local conditions, sitting and permitting. The Program helped advocate for a state law to incentivize the process in 2013 and is continuing to educate the public on this beneficial use of poultry waste. To learn more about the program, go to

1999 streamside-protection issue stirred me to submit column to my boss, Jim Morriss, at The Morning News

Please click on image to ENLARGE for easy reading.

Riparian-zone of Tanglewood Branch in Fayetteville AR damaged by trail-bridge work

Trail bridge going across Tanglewood Branch of the Town Branch at S. School Avenue between 8th and 9th street right of ways.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mayflower oil-spill aerial photos purchased and shared by Arkansas Chapter of Sierra Club

Please click on individual images to ENLARGE. Comments welcome. Descriptions appreciated.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Shale-gas presentation at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, at Pat Walker Senior Center on Appleby Road at Washington Regional Medical Center campus

DEBORAH ROGERS, Financial Analyst, Invited To Discuss Shale Gas Economics Oct. 17
Messengers who bring news that people do not want to hear are often brushed aside and ignored. It took a child, who was not affected by peer pressure or ridicule to declare “the Emperor has no clothes!” When Deborah Rogers first reported her findings that the natural gas industry’s claims and their real world production numbers did not jibe, the industry tried to discredit her in an effort to draw attention away from what she said. Since that time more data and more independent reports confirm her early assumptions. Policy makers, financial advisers, and investors should be aware of natural gas boom/bust possibilities since resource extraction historically follows this pattern. The industry’s marketing campaigns claim natural gas is an energy bridge to a sustainable future. Ms. Rogers describes the economic future she sees for unconventional gas and questions the predictions of it being a hundred year supply.
Deborah Rogers is a financial analyst and founder of the Energy Policy Forum. She was appointed to the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and serves on an advisory committee within the U.S. Department of Interior. Her professional experiences in investment banking and Wall Street have prepared her for evaluating business policy and financial issues. Ms. Rogers lectures on shale gas economics throughout the U.S. and abroad at Universities, business venues and public forums. She is the author of Shale and Wall Street and has been featured in articles discussing the financial anomalies of shale gas in the New York Times, Rolling Stone Magazine, the Village Voice and London’s Guardian.
Most people have heard about the environmental problems of fracking, but do not see this directly impacting them. What is less known are the financial risks of natural gas investments and its potential to disrupt the economy and delay moving to a more sustainable energy future.
A reception to welcome Ms. Rogers will take place in the Pat Walker Senior Center on Thursday, October 17 at 6:00PM. The program will begin at 6:30PM in the auditorium. A Q&A will follow. Sponsors for this activity are the League of Women Voters of Arkansas, Ozark Headwaters Group of Sierra Club, OMNI Center, and Arkansas Interfaith Power and Light.
Internet resources on the Fayetteville Shale Play and hydraulic fracturing are here

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Democrat/Gazette report on Sept. 27, 2013, Beaver Lake watershed meeting in Huntsville, Arkansas


Tame runoff, say watershed experts

HUNTSVILLE - As the population within the Beaver Lake Watershed continues to grow, residents will need to take increasing measures to mitigate the side effects of paving and construction, experts said Friday.
The importance of controlling storm-water runoff - a term for rainwater that can’t be absorbed into the soil because the land is covered with impermeable surfaces such as asphalt - was emphasized throughout several presentations during the Beaver Lake Watershed Symposium Friday at theCarroll Electric Building in Huntsville.
More than a dozen experts in hydrology, aquaculture and other biological sciences spoke before a crowd of about 60. While the topics of individual presentations ranged from the development and implementation of the Beaver Lake Watershed protection strategy to methods of stream restoration and water-quality testing, many of the speakers reiterated that one of the best ways to protect the region’s drinking water is to find ways of redirecting storm water into absorbent soils, rather thanlet it flow freely into open surface waters.
Katie Teague, an agent with the Benton County Extension Office, touched on several factors addressing water-quality protection while asking the audience to participate in a trivia game focused on water-pollution issues.
According to data provided by Teague and others, about 20 percent of rainfall in rural areas remains on the surface of the land as runoff when construction has made at least10 percent of the area impermeable. Teague said that a 1,000-square-foot house will displace 623 gallons of water from 1 inch of rainfall.
“From the homeowner side, it’s just the sheer volume of storm water that’s generated ontheir property, and pollutants that they can introduce that can be carried off their site, into a storm drain, untreated, into the nearest creek or stream,” Teague said. “We encourage ways to break up that path and slow down that water so it cansoak in.”
When water is allowed to permeate vegetation and existing soil, a natural filtration process can remove or reduce excess nutrients and other pollutants from the water as it makes its way into aquifers, and eventually into an area’s drinking water.
John Pennington, executive director of the Beaver Lake Watershed Alliance, has said he hopes the symposium will become an annual event. The alliance, a nonprofit organization founded in 2010, aims to promote awareness of factors that affect the quality of the drinking water in Beaver Lake,which is provided approximately to 420,000 people and sources its water from a watershed covering more than 1,200 square miles.
Brad Hufhines, an environmental technician with the Beaver Water District Treatment Plant, discussed how the use of “rain gardens” can help homes and businesses offset their impermeable footprint by creating areas of vegetation where storm-water runoff will pool and percolate into soil.
“We’re gaining 30 residents every day in Northwest Arkansas, so we’re becoming much more populated, much more built-out,” Hufhines said.“We’re covering up the natural land with impervious surfaces, and that’s causing a lot more water to flow into our streams rapidly. We’re getting more intense flooding and sediment from erosion that’s occurring at an increased level.”
Hufhines said the gardens, which are constructed in depressions to allow runoff to flow toward them, are effective and low-cost ways of trapping and filtering sediment and pollutants.
“I think that’s not the answer for everybody, but it’s one of several best management practices that can be used throughout the watershed.”
Northwest Arkansas, Pages 9 on 09/28/2013

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Wetland visit an educational tour sponsored by Sierra Club's Arkansas Chapter OHG

Video promoting Sept. 15, 2013, Ozark Headwaters Group of the Arkansas chapter of the Sierra Club outing at Pinnacle Foods Wet Prairie in south Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Public TV shortakes for August 4-9, 2013 preview on You Tube link below

John Ross Rule and Aubrey James Shepherd shortakes on Public Access TV in Fayetteville on Cox 218 and U-Verse 99 plus for week of Aug. 4 through Aug. 9, 2013. Preview at link to You Tube.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Connecticut to Arkansas. Atlantic Ocean to White River headwaters in Arkansas

Aubrey James Shepherd take on public access TV in Fayetteville AR to run July 28 through Aug. 2, 2013.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Beautiful button bush on north side of 15th Street in Fayetteville AR at risk as heavy machinery works on both sides of it and other native plants in ditch between highway and former prairie

Please click on individual images to ENLARGE. Button bushes were featured in swamp video from New Jersey on July 14, 2013, NATURE MOMENT on CBS Sunday Morning show.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Buffalo River Watershed Alliance says NO to giant hog feedlot in Mount Judea
Buffalo River Watershed alliance meeting video May1, 2013, in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Infill threatens watershed north and east of intersection of Maine St. and Cross Avenue in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
See map

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Watershed warriors needed to record flooding cause and effect in NW Arkansas

Video: Town Branch flow from Fayetteville construction runoff overwhelms West Fork of the White River.

Please click on individual images to ENLARGE or to see all 76 images in larger format.
View northeast from confluence of Town Branch and West Fork (right)

Town Branch flooded and carrying silt from urban construction sites

View northwest upstream Town Branch

Erosion of peninsula between Town Branch and West Fork

Tree top catches debris from upstream
Eroded south bank of Town Branch
View northeast where flow enters West Fork
Clear water of West Fork invaded by silty water from Town Branch
Add caption
Swirling clockwise from left, Town Branch mud moves up clear West Fork