- Associated Press - Sunday, March 6, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The National Park Service wants the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to list three tributaries to the Buffalo National River on its biennial list of polluted water bodies in the state.

But state officials have declined to add Mill Creek, Bear Creek and Big Creek to the list and claim that data obtained from the waterways before April 1, 2015, don’t show that they are polluted. The department uses five years of data to determine whether a waterway is polluted.

The list is required under the federal Clean Water Act and is overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency., the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported (http://bit.ly/1Ss6Uuu ). Placement on an EPA-approved list can require studies to determine appropriate limits for cities, businesses or others seeking permits to discharge wastewater into a body of water.

The EPA has not approved an Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality list since 2008, but being on the list would mean that the department could continue to require additional water monitoring on those waterways when issuing wastewater discharge permits to new facilities or renewing existing permits.

The National Park Service used its own measurements and U.S. Geological Survey measurements from 2015 as the basis for its October request that the three tributaries be classified as polluted.

The original request was not for the creeks to be placed on the list, but for the department to acknowledge that the creeks were polluted under department regulations, said Chuck Bitting, the NPS’ natural resource program manager at the Buffalo National River.

Now, the park service is asking that the department look at the trends as indicated by the data over the past two to four years when considering the creeks for the list, Bitting said.

“We just want to protect our water quality as best we can because 1 million people rely on it,” he said. In 2014, more than 1.3 million people visited the river and spent about $56.5 million at area businesses, according to National Park Service data.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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