Who Put The Phosphorus In The River?


Posted: December 18, 2011 at 5:21 a.m.

Phosphorus pollution in the Illinois River continues to fester. Recently, the Northwest Arkansas Council, a regional business group, asked Washington and Benton counties and five cities to finance yet another study of the problem. A new scientifically objective study might help.

This story is only available from our archives.

Opinion, Pages 15 on 12/18/2011

Terrific reporting Professor Hobson. Thanks.

There's another complicating aspect to the problem: the corporate entity, for example Tyson, owns the chickens, but the poor chicken farmer owns the chicken litter. The corporation has evaded responsibility for cleaning up its mess.

Hobson's website:

Posted by: FrankLloydLeft

December 18, 2011 at 11:57 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Very good, Art. This point has been "overlooked" for decades. Thanks.

Posted by: dcoody06150747

December 19, 2011 at 5:33 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Thanks professor Hobson for a fine commentary on the phosphorus situation.

Northwestern Arkansas cities should wake up. They should be pressuring the poultry industry to clean up the watershed. Cities should not bear the entire burden of reducing phosphorus buth that is what is happening.

Instead, northwest Arkansas misleaders are trying to collect thousands of dollars to battle Oklahoma's effort to protect their scenic rivers and Tenkiller Lake. That money could be used on many good things and not for laying the groundwork for a possible lawsuit.

Ed Brocksmith


Posted by: Riverok

December 21, 2011 at 7:37 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Is there a way to reduce the amount of phosphorus on our land here in NWA?

Posted by: Tumblebug

December 21, 2011 at 8:54 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

There IS a way to reduce the amount of phosphorus on our land here in NWA - breed a chicken that doesn't defecate.

Posted by: CaptainQuint

December 21, 2011 at 10:42 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

I wish we'd craft sensible guidelines for the control of all farm wastes in rivers and streams, not just the poultry industry. When you think about it, it makes no sense at all that livestock owners have no legal responsibility to prevent their livestock from entering waterways and thus fouling them outright with no control whatsoever. Property owners who want to protect their private ponds will fence their livestock out of their own private ponds. Why not fence them out of public waterways, waterways that comprise our source of drinking water?

Is money the only issue standing in the way of such reforms? What are other barriers?

Posted by: SPA

December 21, 2011 at 9:35 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

My question was in reference to phosporus already on the land, not future polution.

Posted by: Tumblebug

December 22, 2011 at 8:33 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

The short answer to the questions about the phosporus that is already on the land is this: Time. Just like our current economic situation, the excess phosporus took years to build up and will take years to leach out. Much has been done to improve the problem, and much still needs to be done as other posters have pointed out. I hope the results of new study will allow the Arkansas side to negotiate with Oklahoma and the EPA to set up a scientifically-based timetable with manditory benchmarks to eventually get to the goal of .037

Posted by: cjranger

December 22, 2011 at 10:08 a.m. ( | suggest removal )