Northwest Arkansas Times
Quorum Court creates board in response to water quality lawsuit
BY SUSANNAH PATTON Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Friday, September 9, 2005
The Washington County Quorum Court created a new group Thursday to study causes of pollution in the Upper Illinois River Watershed in response to a Federal lawsuit filed against the Arkansas poultry industry.
Members of the Upper Illinois River Watershed Advisory Board will represent Washington County at a meeting of the Upper Illinois River Watershed Summit Steering Committee scheduled for Sept. 28 at the Jones Center in Springdale.
The Quorum Court allocated $5,000 to assist with startup costs of the project.
There will be costs associated with attending the meeting, said Justice of the Peace H. L. Goodwin, RSpringdale. It would be in the best interest of the county to assist with those costs, he said. "The comprehensive approach of this group is very important," Goodwin said. "Everybody that lives in the watershed is responsible for the quality of that watershed."
Goodwin said the group is the result of a grassroots effort by people that live in Washington County. "This is an effort, because of the importance of our natural resources and the quality of those to our economy, to put some money in this and help with startup costs," he said. "We’re putting our money where our mouth is, so to speak."
Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmonson filed a lawsuit against Arkansas poultry farmers in June claiming phosphorous from chicken litter runoff is tainting the Illinois River.
Both Washington and Benton counties contain streams that feed into the Illinois River where Edmonson claims excess phosphorous levels fuel algae growth, which can deplete oxygen and kill certain populations of fish.
goodwin said the issue is crucial to all people located partially or entirely in the Illinois Watershed.
The advisory board will be patterned after a similar venture with the White River watershed. The purpose of the group will be to study the causes of pollution in the watershed, how pollution can be abated and recommend ordinances.