Oklahoma's Scenic Illinois River
Save the Illinois River (STIR) received notification Monday that Arkansas has approved the NPDES permit for Springdale, Arkansas, the largest contributor of treated sewage to the Illinois River watershed. Under the new permit, the phosphorus limit of 1 mg/L remains the same but the monitoring frequency changes to a six-month rolling average despite Oklahoma’s objections. The Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, STIR, and the City of Bentonville, Arkansas submitted comments on the draft permit.
In response to comments by Oklahoma, the Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment stated: “Total phosphorus numerical limits from the previous permit for the Spriingdale Water Utilities are not changing in this renewal and the renewal permit includes a 7-day average concentration limit that was not in the previous permit. In addition, Springdale Water Utilities must conduct an analysis of potential phosphorus concentration reduction in its effluent.”
Arkansas said the permit renewal is in compliance with the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) by and between Oklahoma and Arkansas. The MOA was adopted in an effort to reduce phosphorus in the Illinois River watershed and to meet Oklahoma’s 0.037 mg/L phosphorus limit.
STIR President Denise Deason-Toyne said in STIR’s public comment on the draft permit that the permit would not serve to meet Oklahoma’s 0.037 phosphorus limit.
“Specifically, STIR objects to the continuation of the 1 mg/L TP (totalphosphorus) limit in the permit when the technology exists to reduce it to a limit of 0.1 mg/L or lower.” STIR also objected to the proposed permit change to a six-month rolling average for TP testing instead of a seven-day average test.
In approving the new permit, Arkansas noted that Springdale is working on a master plan for its wastewater treatment plant which has a capacity to discharge 24-million gallons of treated sewage a day.
“The master plan is expected to be completed in the fall or winter of 2021. Any information submitted to the OWQ (Office of Water Quality) in regards to expansions or upgrades will be available on the DEQ website…”
Springdale discharges about two hundred pounds of phosphorus each day into Spring Creek, then to Osage Creek, and then to the Illinois River.
The permit now must be approved by the U.S. EPA.
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