Northwest Arkansas Times from Fayetteville, Arkansas on October 13, 1974 · Page 55
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Northwest Arkansas Times from Fayetteville, Arkansas · Page 55

Fayetteville, Arkansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, October 13, 1974
Page 55
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Page 55 article text (OCR)

Northwest Arkansas TIMES, Sunday, Oct. 13, 1974 FAV1TTIV1LLI, ARKANSAS 7C Engineer Backs Proposal For Illinois River By PEGGY FRIZZELL TIMES SlaH Writer Civil engineer Dr. Dfie Mitchell outlined the federal water quality laws, which he said industrialists refer to as the "no spit in the ocean" laws, and discussed the effects of effluent (treated wastewater) on the Illinois River at a meeting last week with the Highlands Chapter of the Ozark Society. Mitchell's aim was to demonstrate to the group of 60 persons that the proposed wastewater treatment plants on the Illinois Kiver would not lower w a t e r quality. Much objection has been raised to this plan since its adoption by the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission last spring. Most vocal has been the Illinois River Property Owners Association, which is seeking alternatives to discharging the effluent into the Illinois. At the regular chapter meeting, only Ozark Society members were permitted to ask ' clitions that could occur in the river, Mitchell said the lowest measured river flow for seven days in a 10-year period is virtually zero for the Illinois and Northwest Arkansas. Because Northwest Arkansas waters are mostly headwaters and so do not pick up water from other river sources, low and no flows in dry season are common. HIGH TEMPERATURE High temperature in a river is the other component of the worst possible river condition. Mitchell said. High lempealure means that the discharged effluent will rapidly take up the stream's oxygen in order, to assimilate the discharge!, that the re-aeration rate of the water will be lower as the oxy- g e n is taken out and replenished slower, and that the dissolved rate will questions following presentation. Mitchell's Mitchell, who works at the University ot Arkansas and with the Northwest Arkansas Regional Plannign Commission (NWARPC), said the area basin plan to discharge regional effluent into the Illinois River will not harm the river. M i t c h e l l contracted with NWARPC to write the plan according to federal legislative guidelines. NATURAL DRAINAGE "People seem to be under some misapprehension about what the status of the river is," he said, adding that the Illinois River is the natural drainage basin for 90 per cent of the regional residents and as such receives about 25 mgd (million gallons per day) effluent from t h e wastewater' treatment plants in the area that empty Into streams such as the Osage and Spring Creek leading to the Illinois. These plants are overloaded and, in most cases, not treating effluent to the best of t h e i r capacity, he asserted. "A very high portion of water In the river is already wastewater and it has existed as cucn for the past 15 years," he said. He added that this did not prevent body contact recreaton, even in low flow season when almost 100 per cent of the river's flow is effluent. Mitchell said his plan for wastewater treatment, which he labeled as the most cost-worthy and with the least social impact, was developed after studying many alternatives, including use of wastewater in agricultural irrigation. None of these alternatives was acceptable, he said. He did not ex- because as water gets hot, oxygen leaves. '. The critical deficit point for Arkansas streams is five mg-1 dissolved oxygen, Mitchell said. He said the maximum dissolved oxygen be at saturation its lowest level in Arkansas streams, referred to as the oxygen plain why. In Mitchell's plan, two wastewater treatment plants situated at two points on the Illinois River would collect all the region's wastewater and put it through a secondary treatment process before Dicharging it LOW OXYGEN LEVEL But because the discharge plants would only be secondary treatment facilities, instead of the more advanced tertiary treatment that produces a cleaner, less nutrient-laden effluent, the dissolved oxygen level would be lower in the stream than presently allowed by the state Department of Pollution Control and Ecology. The department has classified the Illinois River as a small- mouth bass fishery and as suitable for primary contact recreation, the propagation of desirable species of fish, and a raw water source for public drinking supplies. A stream classified as a smallmouth bass fishery must maintain a dissolved oxygen level of six mg-1 (milligrams per liter). The lowest, rating allowed in Arkansas waters is five , mg-1 -- permitted for streams designated as warm- water fisheries. NWARPC is asking the state and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which approved the state ratings issued in September, 1973, to lower the river classification to warmwater fishery with a requirement of five mg-1. Mitchell claimed this will not change the quality of the river that already has "junk" in it. LAW OUTLINED In outlining the federal water quality law and 1972 amendment, Mitchell said the national goal is to have no discharge of pollutants into any navigable waters by 1985. He said courts tend to favor the EPA in ruling as navigable "stream that floats a toothpick." He did not mention that the plan calls for the "best practicable treatment" for municipal wastewater by 1983, a standard to be defined by the EPA and not necessarily one that will include secondary treatment.) The interim goal is to restore and maintain water quality providing for protection and propagation of aquatic life and providing for recreational use of waters by 1983, Mitchell said. ' He said a lower classification saturation point, is about 7.3 mg-1. Mitchell berated recent studies by other persons who found a higher dissolved oxygen content in the streams, saying such a level was caused by algae polluting the stream. On a graph depicting the assimilation of wastewater into the stream, Mitchell showed the algae helping to replenish the oxygen supply taken out by ''oacteria in breaking up the effluent. Mitchell claimed that all species of fish can survive at a dissolved oxygen level of four mg-1 although this level is not conducive to propagation. If the dissolved oxygen level drops to two mg/1 only s o m e fish -mainly carp -- can survive. But .he fish can swim away from those points lowest in dissolved oxygen, he said. One audience member suggested pumping Beaver Lake water into the river at the most critical times as a possibility. Mitchell said this is possible but not permitted to be included in the b a s i n plan for regional wastewater treatment because EPA feels the effluent shoulc be clean enough without augmentation of water supplj nor the installalon of aerators (devices in the river whicl would increase turbulence and thereby the oxygen level.) Mitchell endorsed h i s plan, nothing that if no a c t i o n is taken -- an alternative not legally allowed by federal law -the river would receive an approximate 30 million gallons per day effluent by the end of the 1980's. He said secondary treatment at the plant is more economical than tertiary treatment since to go below a BOD rating of 15- mg-1 (as a tertiary plant could do) doubles the cost of the plant for every five points decreased. (BOD is the amount of oxygen required ty bacteria to break down the effluent discharged into the river. The higher amount of oxygen needed for the breakdown, the less oxygen left in the water for other a q u a t i c forms of life.) Secondary treatment fails to remove many phosphates and nitrates which age a body of water by promoting surface plant growth that eventually chokes the lake (the eutjophica- tion process). Tertiary treatment eliminates most all nutrients. BEAVER PROBLEM Since Beaver Lake is a major source of drinking water for the Northwest Arkansas region, Mitchell said it is not wise to continue to empty effluent from secondary treatment into the White River which flows into the lake. So the basin plan he wrote calls for discharge into the Illinois. However, the Illinois empties into Lake Francis, the public drinking water supply for Siloam Springs. The basin plan includes the provision that Siloam Springs change its drinking water source from -Lake Francis to Beaver Lake. "Lake Francis is already a' highly eutrophic lake," Mitchell said. Asked if the nutrient-laden effluent would then pass onto the recreational Lake Tenkiller in Oklahoma, Mitchell said some probably would. Ask what would happen if the wastewater treatment plant broke down and raw sewage was dumped into the Illinois River during a low-flow period. Mitchell replied only that it would be a disaster. Asked if there was some way to use tertiary-treated wasfewa- ter so that it could be sold and pay the extra cost involved in the extra treatment process, Mitchell said it is ridiculous to think you can make money out of wastewater. But in his next and final comment, he admitted that wastewater might be a valuable resource, referring to the fact that it contains nut- McKesson-Bexel F A L L S A L E V* Price thro Nov. 30 of the Illinois River will not rients necded in agriculture, harm the fishhfe in the stream 1 since under even the worst conditions fish could survive by swimming away from the most critical point -- that point about 12 to 15 miles downstream from the plant site wheret oxygen content would be lowest -- and returning when the water again provided a livable environment. Describing the worst con- East Side of Squire BRENT-LON® PANTYHOSE R«g. 1.69 Nude heel or sandal- foot Brent-Lou* nylon pantyhose. Petite, average, tall. I." X-all ...94 25% OFF GROUPS B A N D C MADE-TO-MEASURE DRAPERIES Over 200 colors, patterns. Bring in your window measurements for any size drapery you need. Order extra-full, lined or unlined. Groups D, B and F plus sheers. 25 % OFF. Save now. 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