From the Tahlequah Daily Press
By BOB GIBBINS Press Staff Writer
Thursday, May 5, 2005 2:47 PM CDT
Proponents of the Illinois River want to see a regional wastewater treatment plan developed in a burgeoning northwest Arkansas.
Ed Brocksmith, president of Save the Illinois River and a longtime Illinois River advocate, said some cities like Bentonville have explored the need for wastewater treatment plants.
He said Osage Creek, a tributary of the Illinois River, has been highly degraded by nutrients.
"There has been rapid growth in northwest Arkansas," he said. "Other cities want to build wastewater treatment plants.
A report set to be released this month will indicate whether it is practical to include western Benton and Washington County cities in a regional wastewater plan.
The Northwest Arkansas Conservation Authority asked for the study in response to the Arkansas Soil and Water Conservation Commission's concern over the authority's regional look, said John Sampier, executive director of the authority.
A $50,000 grant allowed the study, which is evaluating Farmington, Lincoln and Prairie Grove in Washington County, and Decatur, Gentry, Gravette and Sulphur Springs in Benton County. The results of the engineering study will determine whether it is technically and financially feasible.
Rogers and Springdale were the original cities involved in the organization, which seeks a far-reaching, regional approach to sewage treatment.
Bethel Heights, Cave Springs, Elm Springs, Bentonville and Lowell have joined the authority, and Tontitown is set to join, Sampier said.
A majority of city officials in the communities included have indicated support for such a regional operation.
Brocksmith said some believe separate wastewater treatment plants are not the way to go.
"There are some who want to see regional plants instead of individual cities having plants," he said.
Brocksmith said Oklahoma has adopted a phosphorus limit standard that all cities and businesses must meet by 2012. He said Rogers, Ark., is removing phosphorus from its wastewater.
"They've all agreed to do the same thing Tahlequah's doing," he said. "Some have goals to do better."
Tahlequah currently has 1 part per million, which is above the scenic river limit of .037 parts per million.
"The technology exists for us to do better," he said.