The Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission is to meet Friday to consider an industry petition to begin a rule-making process to remove the drinking water designation for a tributary of Brushy Creek in northeast Arkansas.
Company representatives often appear before the commission after ordering studies of the waters they discharge into to support raising limits for minerals in those waters. They contend that meeting the state's minerals standards is financially impossible in many places because of the process required to clean up their discharged wastewater.
Also, Vulcan Construction Materials, which owns and operates the limestone Black Rock Quarry in Lawrence County, is asking the commission to change the drinking water site-specific water quality standards for that area, which is currently subject to regional standards.
By default, all surface waters in Arkansas have drinking water designations.
The unnamed tributary of Brushy Creek is considered "impaired" for not meeting drinking water standards because of high levels of total dissolved solids. The tributary is not used for drinking water.
The regional standards for the Ozark Ecoregion are 13 milligrams per liter of chloride, 17 milligrams per liter of sulfate and 240 milligrams per liter of total dissolved solids.
The company contends that state regulations for waters independent of the ecoregion set drinking water quality standards at 250, 250 and 500 milligrams per liter of chlorides, sulfates and total dissolved solids, respectively. The company wants to change the standards for sulfate and total dissolved solids in three spots, to allow total dissolved solids to be as high as 725 milligrams per liter and sulfates to be as high as 260 milligrams per liter at Vulcan's discharge point.
After an analysis showed that Vulcan's discharge into the tributary could cause the tributary to not meeting drinking water standards, its permit was renewed with a 500 milligrams of total dissolved solids per liter of water monthly average limit.
That increased to 750 milligrams per liter in 2008 until the company could complete the rule-making process, through approval or denial, for Vulcan's request to change the water quality standards.
The company has commissioned studies to assert its proposal's limited impact on habitat and aquatic life and showing that the tributary's low flow prevents it from attaining its domestic water supply designated use.
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