USDA, Arkansas target pollution of Illinois River
February 2, 2009
Nutrients, bacteria and sediment in the Illinois River watershed of northwest Arkansas are at the heart of a court dispute between Arkansas and Oklahoma, which will be targeted for reduction by a new partnership of state and federal agencies, according to the Associated Press. The U.S. Agriculture Department said in a news release that its Commodity Credit Corporation and the state of Arkansas had entered into a new Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program agreement. The agreement calls for voluntary construction of buffers along stream banks and filter strips on 15,000 acres of marginal pastureland and cropland by landowners. The agreement has a goal of reducing 10,000 tons of annual sediment now going into streams. A sign-up date for the voluntary program will be announced soon, allowing farmers and ranchers to apply at their Farm Service Agency service center. The FSA will administer the project on behalf of CCC, working with the USDA''s Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission. Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson sued 13 Arkansas-based poultry companies in 2005, claiming that they were polluting Oklahoma waters by spreading poultry waste on land in the Illinois watershed. The Illinois River rises in Arkansas and flows west into Oklahoma. The poultry companies, which include Tyson Foods Inc., dispute Edmondson''s claims.