Tuesday, December 9, 2008
FYI passing this along--of interest to duck hunters/wetland interests. Jim Wood.
----- Original Message -----
From: George Sorvalis
Sent: Friday, December 05, 2008 12:11 PM
Subject: WETLANDS: EPA, Army Corps satisfy no one with new guidance (12/05/2008)
WETLANDS: EPA, Army Corps satisfy no one with new guidance (12/05/2008)
Katherine Boyle, Greenwire reporter
Environmentalists and industry stakeholders alike are blasting the wetlands guidance memorandum issued this week by U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers.
The revised guidance defines protected waters as those that are determined to be navigable-in-fact by the courts, are currently being used or have historically been used for commercial navigation, or could realistically be used for commercial navigation in the future.
The document also clarifies what constitutes a protected, adjacent wetland, noting that a wetland must have an unbroken hydrologic connection to jurisdictional waters, be separated from those waters by a berm or similar barrier or be reasonably close to a jurisdictional water (E&ENews PM, Dec. 3).
Neither environmental groups like the National Wildlife Federation nor industry stakeholders like the National Association of Home Builders are happy with it.
The federation slammed the guidance as less protective and more confusing than the June 2007 memo it replaces. Both memos are meant to clarify the Supreme Court's muddled 2006 Rapanos-Carabell decision.
The guidance "is another lose-lose document that will have the effect of making it harder to protect waters, and more time-intensive and costly to administer permit applications," federation attorney Jim Murphy said in a statement. "It will result in more pollution, more administrative delays, and more head scratching."
Environmentalists warn that the revised guidance undermines Clean Water Act protections for a number of wetlands and streams by requiring waters to be commercially navigable to qualify. That means fewer bodies of water will fall under the significant nexus test, which measures the relationship between upstream waters and the closest traditionally navigable water, devised by Justice Anthony Kennedy in the Rapanos decision, the federation said.
The homebuilders, on the other hand, said the guidance's definition of protected waters is too broad.
Susan Asmus, staff vice president for regulatory policy at the National Association of Home Builders, said including waters that are potentially navigable contradicts the intent of the Clean Water Act. She said the law is meant to cover waters that are currently being used for navigation rather than those that are "susceptible" to use.
Despite the criticism, Benjamin Grumbles, EPA's assistant administrator for water, praised the guidance, which he said ensures that the traditional navigable waters test encompasses requirements the agency has looked at over the years.
"We're looking at all the prongs for jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act," Grumbles said. "That includes if it was navigable in the past or is susceptible to commercial navigation in the future." That definition ensures that officials will not solely rely upon the 1899 Rivers and Harbors Act when applying Kennedy's significant nexus test.
The Rapanos guidance is able to cover waters that may not have been covered in the past after the Supreme Court decision, Grumbles added.
The guidance arrived in the wake of the Supreme Court's refusal this week to reconsider its Rapanos decision.
The court's refusal to reconsider the wetlands protection case leaves it to lower federal courts to continue to try to answer the question over how to interpret the high court's splintered opinion. The justices' 4-1-4 decision on the scope of the Clean Water Act has generated conflicting interpretations from lower courts (Greenwire, Dec. 1).
Environmentalists and industry officials agree that much of the language in the new guidance is still unclear.
Asmus said EPA and the Army Corps still need to better clarify which wetlands and streams will qualify as protected.
"I'm not sure that [EPA and the Army Corps] changed it enough to make it workable in the field," Asmus said. "There are still a lot of uncertainties."
Asmus pointed to EPA's new definition of protected, adjacent wetlands as an example. "They talk about adjacency, and they talk about 'reasonable, close proximity,'" she said. "I don't know what that means."
The National Wildlife Federation also panned the terminology as vague and confusing, calling the adjacency standard "ill-defined."
Yet Grumbles said the guidance does provide clarity.
"The guidance makes clear that an ecological connection is the basis for asserting the Clean Water Act safeguard, and we're proud of that," he said. ""We think it's an additional and important clarification."
The guidance also notes that decisions on protected waters do not have to be made on a case-by-case basis, Grumbles said.
"We will infer an ecological connection for those wetlands that are sufficiently close by looking at the movement of amphibians or fish," he said. "We think that type of ecological connection is an important one ... and we think it will lead to additional protections for wetlands."
Meanwhile, the National Wildlife Federation and three other advocacy groups -- American Rivers, Environmental Defense and Ducks Unlimited -- are calling on Congress to pass legislation that would override the memo and the split Rapanos decision.
"The Rapanos decision has caused a bureaucratic nightmare, but it is a Supreme Court decision and EPA has no choice but to obey it, " Jim Tripp, general counsel for Environmental Defense Fund, said in a statement. "Congress, however, can -- and should -- step in to fix the problem."
House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) may do just that.
Both lawmakers argue that prior to the court's Rapanos decision and the 2001 Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decision, the phrase "navigable waters" had been broadly defined as "waters of the United States, including the territorial seas." They have indicated that during the 111th Congress they will reintroduce legislation aimed at restoring that definition.
Opponents of their legislation say the bill would expand wetland protections beyond the intent of the Clean Water Act and could lead to a spate of lawsuits (E&E Daily, July 8).
While environmentalists call for a legislative fix, the homebuilders indicated they would like to see EPA promulgate a rule on the issue.
"Part of the challenge here is, you've got a Supreme Court who's ruled on something [and] a couple of agencies who don't quite know how to interpret that or are a little afraid to interpret that," Asmus said. "So they interpret it one way, and then everybody comes out of the woodwork and says, 'Hey, wait a minute, I disagree. You didn't interpret this right.' And you're off on a bad foot to begin with."
Click here to view the revised guidance memo.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
They tried to build several in Texas but were stopped, so they came to Arkansas. Another in planning stage for Northeast Arkansas and Oklahoma. There are concerns the OK plant will drift over the Ozarks. Note there is no limit on CO2 emissions.
ADEQ ISSUES AIR PERMIT FOR COAL-FIRED ELECTRIC PLANT
The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) has approved a final air permit for construction and operation of a coal-fired electric power plant in
The permit application had been under review by the ADEQ for more than two years, and was the subject of two public hearings and two separate public comment periods totaling more than three months, during which hundreds of interested parties offered comments on the proposed permit.
“This is a complex and controversial permit application,” ADEQ Director Teresa Marks said. “It has undergone a lengthy review by technical and legal personnel to make sure the permit is protective of public health and the environment by conforming to all applicable air emission standards under state and federal laws.”
The main steam generating unit consists of one ultra-supercritical pulverized coal boiler fueled by low sulfur coal and natural gas which will power a single steam turbine designed for base load operation with a nominal net power output of 600 megawatts.
The permit contains emission limits for such pollutants as particulates, sulfur dioxide (SO2), volatile organic compounds (VOC), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and mercury. There are no limits in the permit for carbon dioxide (CO2), which currently is not subject to emission limits under federal or state regulations.
However, the Turk plant design includes a 20-acre area for the inclusion of CO2 capture equipment, should future regulations impose CO2 emission limits.
“It is quite possible CO2 emission standards will be adopted at the federal level and in
Currently, Arkansas has six permitted coal-fired electric generating units; two near Redfield in Jefferson County, two near Batesville in Independence County, one near Gentry in Benton County, and one near Osceola in Mississippi County.
A fact sheet with additional information about the Turk Plant permit is available on the ADEQ internet web site, www.adeq.state.ar.us, in the “Hot Topics” box on the right-hand side of the web site home page.
TAMMI TROTTER AWARDED BY STATE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL WORK
Little Rock, Ark. – Nov. 1, 2008 – Tammi Trotter, leader of the Friends of the Mill and Piney Creeks environmental organization, was today given the “Clean Water – Stronger Communities Volunteer Award” of the Arkansas Watershed Advisory Group (AWAG), a part of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). The award was presented at a ceremony held at the Hilton Little Rock Metro Center in conjunction with the 2008 AWAG conference.
Trotter helped found and organize the Friends of the Mill and Piney Creeks just months ago in an effort to curb and correct significant environmental damage on Mill Creek and the Piney Creek below it, caused at least in part according to ADEQ, by the unpermitted mining activity of B&H Resources, LLC., a company co-owned by George Bartmess of the Brockwell area.
Trotter’s leadership resulted in the issuance of an emergency order from ADEQ to B&H Resources to halt activity. ADEQ is also demanding from B&H Resources a plan for remediation of damage done.
Media throughout the state have covered the conflict and a groundswell of public support for the Friends organization has occurred.
Mill Creek and Piney Creek, both completely contained in Izard County, are two of the most beautiful streams in Arkansas. They are small streams with towering bluffs dotting their banks and are frequently visited by nature lovers, fishermen and others seeking to enjoy their beauty.
Trotter lives with her family at the mouth of Mill Creek where it flows into Piney Creek. She was alerted to the environmental damage when the gravel stream bottom near her home was suddenly inundated with several feet of silt. She decided to alert neighboring property owners, some of whom live in different counties and even in different states. Still, Trotter managed to contact those owners and in June held in a meadow near her home the first meeting of what that day became the Friends of the Mill and Piney Creeks. Nearly 40 people attended – many of whom had never before met but who shared the goal of protecting the creeks.
Working with this group, Trotter successfully alerted ADEQ staff about the damage, leading to several investigations by them and the resulting emergency order.
At Trotter’s invitation and encouragement, ADEQ Director Teresa Marks personally visited the damaged area on August 27 and spoke to a group of 75 concerned citizens at the Calico Rock Music Hall.
Trotter remains vigilant and watchful about environmentally-adverse activities along the creeks. Friends of the Mill and Piney Creeks is now a vibrant organization holding meetings and conducting activities on a regular basis.
Congratulations Tammi and everyone with the group for this well deserved award! We are so proud of you!
A comment... almost everything Arkansas does to protect water is required by the Feds through the EPA and the Clean Water Act. In fact, the EPA has delegated many of their programs, including stormwater regulation, to Arkansas. From what I hear, the relationship could use some work.
Point source pollution (stuff coming out of a pipe) has been regulated for some time, but "non-point source pollution" (runoff) has no teeth. All the programs are "studies" and planning for education and encouragement of voluntary actions. I support that approach, however, there should be some minimum base regulation and enforcement.
The Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators has just released the final version of a document entitled "Call for Change-Water Quality Improvements for the 21st Century."
The document addresses the need to improve the working relationship between EPA and the states as well as more specific programmatic issues. It looks like we have some similar ideas. The document can be found here:
As you know, the Buffalo is in our watershed. We do not focus on the Buffalo, but work closely with the Ozark Society who is focused on that beautiful stream.
Here's a note from Debbie Doss with the Canoe Club on an upcoming documentary. Debbie and the club have been big supporters of our efforts.
Two more screenings of the documentary, The Buffalo Flows, have been announced. Arkansas Canoe Club members are featured in the film and I must say, we were pleased with the way it has turned out.
The first screening is in Fayetteville on Nov. 14 at the U of A.
Get the details here:
http://www.uark.edu/depts/jourinfo/publ ... ews/?p=112
The second is at the Cinton School in Little Rock on Nov. 20th. You will need to call them in order to reserve a seat.
Get the details here:
http://www.clintonschool.uasys.edu/news ... spx?id=485
Friday, October 17, 2008
construction industry (09/19/2008)
Katherine Boyle, Greenwire reporter
A federal appeals court yesterday upheld a lower court decision
requiring U.S. EPA to set standards to control stormwater pollution from
strip malls, subdivisions and other new developments by Dec. 1, 2009.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the Natural Resources
Defense Council and the Waterkeeper Alliance, ruling EPA must promulgate
effluent limitation guidelines and new source performance standards for
stormwater pollution discharges caused by the construction and
The states of Connecticut and New York supported NRDC and the alliance
in the case.
NRDC and the alliance predicted the court's decision would prevent beach
closings, waterborne disease, flooding, fish kills and contamination of
drinking water supplies.
"This decision will go a long way toward protecting America's streams
and rivers from the construction and development industry," said Melanie
Shepherdson, a staff attorney at NRDC. "The court made it very clear
that EPA can't just shirk its responsibilities to rein in pollution from
EPA spokesman Nick Butterfield said making sure the nation's coastlines
and watersheds remain vibrant and healthy is a top priority for the
agency. He noted that EPA is currently working on a new clean water
regulation to reduce runoff pollution from construction sites, as the
When EPA appealed the 2006 U.S. District Court for the Central District
of California decision, the agency argued that the annual cost of
proposed effluent standards would be more than half a billion dollars
and would result in job displacement. EPA also noted that existing
permit programs could control 80 percent to 90 percent of sediment
Additionally, EPA argued that the definition of "new source" should not
include construction sites.
The National Association of Home Builders intervened in the case on
behalf of EPA. The homebuilders have said a rule placing a numerical
limit on stormwater runoff would pose problems for the construction
industry because it is impossible to predict how much it will rain
during a project.
NRDC and the alliance argued that EPA's failure to promulgate stormwater
standards after listing the construction industry as a point source
violated the Clean Water Act.
EPA originally predicted that a final stormwater rule could come out
this year but now says it will not be released until 2009. The agency is
delaying the rule in order to convene an advisory panel that will
examine the economic impact it could have on small businesses, despite
previously concluding a panel would not be necessary.
EPA said it expects to publish a proposed rule by Dec. 1, 2008, and is
still on track to finalize the rule by Dec. 1, 2009, the court-ordered
Although the high precipitation earlier this year and the resulting high flows
from the dams have had some positive effects on the trout fisheries in the White
and North Fork Rivers, these conditions have resulted in some of the lowest
dissolved oxygen levels observed on these waters. When the dissolved oxygen
levels began to drop below the state standard of 6.0 mg/l, the Corps of
Engineers blocked open the turbine vents to allow more air to be entrained.
This helped some, but as the season progressed the dissolved oxygen levels began
to approach 4.0 mg/l. The Corps and Southwest Power instituted maximum loading
restrictions on the turbine releases from the dams. This basically means that
they are putting less water through the turbines to allow greater aeration.
This helped to bring the dissolved oxygen levels back up and for that reason we
continued to stock trout in all areas in an effort to maintain a satisfactory
fishery. During this time we closely monitored the water quality situation and
collected field samples to determine the extent to which sub-standard dissolved
oxygen levels reached below the dams. However, the dissolved oxygen levels have
continued to drop and despite the turbine venting and loading restrictions we
are now seeing readings approach 3.0 mg/l. This is a threshold level where we
could begin to see trout mortality and for that reason we have recommended to
cease stocking in areas affected by low dissolved oxygen. Field samples taken
earlier this week have shown that at the current flows the dissolved oxygen is
not recovering to 6.0 mg/l until just above Rim Shoals on the White and until
the bottom of the catch-and-release area on the North Fork. Therefore, we will
cease stocking trout from the dam down to Cotter on the White and will only
stock at Rose's Dock on the North Fork until conditions improve.
It should be noted that the fish that were scheduled for the affected areas will
be held at the Jim Hinkle/Spring River Hatchery to be stocked in those areas
when conditions improve. I realize the impact that these restrictions may have
on many of you, however, this is a very unusual year. In fact, we have also
instituted stocking restriction on the upper 6 miles of the Little Red for the
first time ever.
I have attached a copy of the memos in which we recommended the stocking
restrictions. Please let me know if you have any questions at all. Thanks.
Jeffrey S. Williams
Trout Management Supervisor
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
201 East 5th Street
Mountain Home, AR 72653
Phone: (870) 424-5924
Fax: (870) 425-6596
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Another benefit is that not all the rainfall reaches the river in a short period of time. This means that the river doesn’t rise as much or so fast which means there is less bank erosion. It also means the groundwater reaches the river slowly so there is more “recharge”. The river is replenished by ground water even when there is no rainfall because it takes a while for the water to move through the soil and rock.
Development refers to anything people do that impacts the environment. Any time land is paved or a building built, less water can get into the ground. That means more run off. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a typical city block generates five times more run off than a wooded area of the same size because there are so many hard surfaces that block water from soaking into the ground.
“What I do doesn’t make much difference”
Well, yes it does. There are many small ways we all contribute to environmental degradation, but there are many easy things we can do to encourage the natural water cycle that all together make a big difference. Rain barrels catch rain water from roofs that can be used later to water landscaping. Rain gardens are landscaped areas that are slightly depressed so rain water pools so it can be used by the plants or soak into the ground. If properly done, the water soaks is gone before mosquitoes can breed.
Improving landscaping can make a big difference. Trees and shrubs catch and absorb more rain water than grass. Grass absorbs more than bare dirt or rock. Another thing we can do is find ways to slow water down as it travels across the ground. Taking some of the energy out of the flow will decrease the amount of dirt carried away – and in our rocky area, we need all the soil we can get. Don’t over water and use pesticides and herbicides sparingly. Dispose of litter, household and yard waste, and hazardous materials properly.
Another LID strategy is to make sure our septic tanks are inspected and pumped regularly to ensure it is functioning properly. Just because the toilet flushes doesn’t mean that the sewerage is being properly treated. The state of Missouri estimates that 70% of the state’s septic tanks don’t function properly. That’s scary. The Bull Shoals area and northern Arkansas has the same kind of rocky “karst” ground as much of Missouri. In many places, traditional septic tanks can’t work. However, new septic tank technology that works much better is available.
Monday, September 22, 2008
In addition to "Water Issues in Arkansas An Unfinished Story..." , the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation funded "Troubled Water", an AETN original sixty-minute documentary that traveled across the state to learn more about the potential for a water crisis in Arkansas.
I sat next to a lady from this foundation at the LID workshop. They would be a good partner for water quality issue projects and it looks like a possible source of funding.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Once comments are received, the Director will issue a final order. That order can be appealed by B&H, so it's not over yet.... but for today...
Congratulations to Friends of Mill and Piney Creeks and everyone in the community who has helped with this effort.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
This has taken years of research and will be used as a piece for discussion and dialogue about water issues in Arkansas. Board Member Steve Wilson was one of the consultants on the project. Thank you Rockefeller Foundation!
It is interesting to note that the Foundation published a similar piece in 1982 called "Arkansas Water - Why Wait for the Crisis?" The introduction lamented that Arkansas did not have a comprehensive water policy and that it would be difficult to create such a policy because of "special interests." That is still the case 25 years later. Most of the recommendations in that report were not addressed by the legislature, so we have lots of work to do to convince our representatives that we really want something done now. This report is a valuable contribution to that process.
ADEQ Proposes New Stormwater Permits for Construction Informational Meeting September 16, 2008, Mountain Home
ADEQ will hold an informational meeting September 16, 1:00PM, City Hall, 720 S. Hickory, Mountain Home, AR to present information and answer questions on a revised stormwater permit that regulates what people have to do when they are clearing more than an acre of land. Basically, everyone is supposed to have a plan to prevent runoff and use Best Management Practices (BMP). A written plan is required for 5 acres or more.
The new General Permit has some significant and positive changes and we hope these… and other changes… will be included and help us control the destructive runoff we are seeing in our watershed from clearing.
We urge everyone to attend who is interested in stopping runoff and siltation of streams in our watershed, as sediment is the #1 pollutant. Following is information on all the meetings in the State but details can be found at http://www.adeq.state.ar.us/water/branch_permits/general_permits/stormwater/construction/construction.htm
Starting with page 39 of the draft permit, you will find a list of specific changes from the old general permit, for those of you who like the finer details.
There is also a formal “comment period” where citizens or organizations can make written comments on the record or ask for a formal hearing. The current meeting is an informational meeting to learn and get questions answered. That notice will be published in local newspapers, but here is a link to the draft which explains the process. http://www.adeq.state.ar.us/water/branch_permits/general_permits/stormwater/construction/pdfs/ARR150000_public_notice.pdf
We have found out the deadline for submitting comments is September 29th, 2008. Comments can also be made by email to Ms. Jennifer Harmon at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are in the process of reviewing the permit as well and will keep you posted on what we think after the meeting.
MEETINGS ON RENEWAL CONSTRUCTION STORMWATER PERMIT
The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) will hold a series of informational meetings around the state during the month of September to explain proposed changes to the renewal general construction permit covered by stormwater regulations administered by the ADEQ.
The following are a few of the revisions that are being proposed for the construction stormwater general permit. There are now only two proposed sizes for construction sites. Small sites, which would be any site disturbing between one and five acres of land, and large sites, which would be any site disturbing more than five acres. Large sites must submit a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) along with the Notice of Intent (NOI) and permit fee. In addition, buffer zone requirements for waterways have been included.
The following are the dates, times and locations of the scheduled meetings around the state:
- September 3, 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., North Little Rock; ADEQ Headquarters, 5301 Northshore Drive.
- September 4, 1:30 p.m., Camden; Municipal Building, 206 Van Buren Street NE.
- September 8, 1:30 p.m., Jonesboro; Allen Park Community Center, 3609 Race Street.
Water Meetings Page Two of Two
- September 9, 2:00 p.m., Fort Smith, Riverpark Events Building (West Events Room), 121 Clayton Expressway.
- September 10, 9:30 a.m., Fayetteville; City Administration Building, Council Chambers - Room 219, 113 West Mountain Street.
- September 10, 1:30 p.m., Springdale; Jones Center for Families, 922 East Emma Ave.
- September 15, 1:30 p.m., Hot Springs; Hot Springs Convention Center, Rooms 104-105, 134 Convention Blvd.
- September 16, 1:00 p.m., Mountain Home; City Hall, 720 S. Hickory.
- September 19, 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., North Little Rock; ADEQ, 5301 Northshore Drive.
Staff members from the Stormwater program at ADEQ will present a brief presentation at each of the meetings and will be available to answer questions from the audience. Additional information on the new permit requirements and informational meetings may be obtained by contacting Jamal Solaimanian in the ADEQ Water Division, telephone, 501-682-0620.