Arkansas Water Quality Standards High, Some Say Too Much So

Mar 26, 2013

A bill that would remove water quality standards for mineral content in small streams in the state is set for a hearing in the Senate Public Health Committee Wednesday.

House Bill 1929 would remove a special permit requirement for businesses that discharge minerals such as chlorides and sulfates into streams. Representative Andy Davis, a Republican from Little Rock, is the bill’s sponsor. Davis says current standards apply to water that will never be used as drinking water.

“We’ve got a standard on a lot of bodies of water in the state that’s not practical, and it’s costing us millions of dollars to go through environmental to remove,” Davis said.

However, environmental and citizen’s groups gathered in the Capitol yesterday to voice opposition to the bill saying it would harm water quality in the state. Glen Hooks of the Sierra Club says the state has high water quality standards for a reason.

“Every waterway is presumed to be either drinking water or potential drinking water, because of that it has some special protections; this bill removes that presumption, and so it’s going to make it much easier to pollute our waterways,” Hooks said.

Theresa Marks, Director of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality spoke against the bill in House committee last week saying all the streams considered in the bill shouldn’t default to a non-drinking water standard.