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Save Greers Ferry Lake

Greers Ferry Lake Needs Your Help!

Newsletter April 2014

Dear Friend,

The Greers Ferry Lake area has survived perhaps the area’s coldest and most wintry season of the last twenty years. The several snows and ice storms were not enough to cause significant changes in lake level, but were responsible for more than usual school, business and road closings. Painting and maintenance on the Narrows Bridge was accomplished at intervals between hazardous weather delays.

THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY of Greers Ferry Lake and Dam Dedication was celebrated on October 3, 2013. Featured speakers at the ceremony were former President Bill Clinton and Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe. Carl Garner was recognized for his many years of service and stewardship as Chief Engineer of the project. Save Greers Ferry Lake, Inc provided one of several booths highlighting the benefits and beauty of the lake and area. SGFL, Inc also sponsored an essay contest to increase awareness of the importance of Greers Ferry Lake. The published student essays seemed to show greater awareness and appreciation of the value of Greers Ferry Lake than some of the agencies responsible for its protection.

BEE BRANCH WASTEWATER RECYCLING In January of 2013, a public hearing was held at Clinton regarding a SEECO application for a construction permit to build a fracking wastewater recycling facility. This is to recycle wastewater and reuse it in fracking operations. This should result in both cost savings and a reduction in the millions of gallons of water lost with each fracking. These positive results would be countered, however, by SEECO’s further application for a discharge permit to allow excess recycled wastewater to be dumped into the Extraordinary Resource Watershed (ERW). There is NO need for such discharge! SEECO would have absolute control over the input of polluted water and therefore able to control the total water output from the facility. With any reasonable management, SEECO should be able to recycle ONLY the amount of processed water that could be used during a given fracking operation. Established methods for excess wastewater disposal already exist and do not include dumping into an ERW.

The threat to water source pollution is further escalated by SEECO’s announced intent to use this Centralized Waste Treatment facility (CWT) as a revenue generating business to treat wastewater from any number of “customers”. This profit incentive could generate a significant amount of wastewater discharge! Arkansas Dept of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) accepts the dubious claim that no bacteria could be introduced into the system. This allows exemption of SEECO from e coli monitoring. Inspection of waste input is not required and discharge monitoring is mainly by SEECO, since ADEQ does not have adequate resources.

SGFL, along with others, expressed concern at the Clinton public hearing that the discharge permit would be a precedent for many more recycling facilities in the Greers Ferry Lake area due to the present concentration of gas wells in very close proximity to the lake. The wastewater discharges would be an unnecessary threat to water sources. In spite of the many objections, ADEQ approved the SEECO discharge permit request. Arkansas Pollution Control & Ecology Commission (APC&E) issued a notice inviting hearing requests. SGFL president Uecker responded but was told that only an attorney could be heard. Ross Noland of McMath Woods law firm then represented SGFL in a motion for summary judgment to deny the discharge permit. The main issue of “NO NEED for discharge” was not allowed by the APC&E judge. The only issue the judge would consider was the legality of discharge into an Extraordinary Resource Watershed (ERW). Both ADEQ and APC&E strongly argued to support legal authority to allow discharge into ERW. This effectively cancels the intent and purpose of an ERW designation. The judge also rejected nearly all other comments made at the Clinton public hearing as not properly stated or expressly articulated. The actions of ADEQ and APC&E both demonstrate a strong predisposition to promote exploitation, rather than protection, of Arkansas natural resources. (Buffalo River hog farms, Greers Ferry Lake ERW denial) Please enlist your group to help curb wastewater discharge permits into the Greers Ferry Lake watershed.

COVE CREEK WATER INTAKE At least 8 new reasons will soon be added to protect the clean water of Greers Ferry Lake. They are the new customers of Austin Water, Beebe Sewer & Water, Furlow PWA, Grand Prairie/Bayou Two PFB, Jacksonville Water, North Pulaski Waterworks PFD, Vilonia Waterworks Association, and Ward Water & Sewer System, who will soon be supplied with water from Greers Ferry Lake. Lonoke White Public Water Authority (LWPWA) is nearing completion of the Cove Creek water intake project. The facility is designed to initially process 10 million gallons per day and be expanded to 30mgd. At present the contractors are in the process of testing equipment at the intake site and treatment plant. They are pumping water from the lake through the entire treatment process and are starting to test the chemical equipment. Once that process is complete, with approval of the Arkansas Department of Health, potable water will be pumped through the pipeline for flushing and testing. Flushing and testing the 72 miles of pipeline, storage tanks, and 11 meter stations will take a few weeks. LWPWA expects to have water to the first customers in May, and be in full production to all customers by June. Initial SGFL and Corps of Engineers meetings with LWPWA engineers helped to establish safety and aesthetic guidelines for the project. Large intake pipes and intake screens should not be visible above the surface, even at low water levels. The processing facilities are located at a distance above the lake.

NATURAL GAS DRILLING In spite of claims that natural gas well drilling is on the decline due to the low price of natural gas, there appears to still be considerable activity in the Cleburne and Van Buren County areas with new wells ever closer to the shores of Greers Ferry Lake. (click here to see aerial photos of wells surrounding Greers Ferry Lake) One new well is across the street from the Greers Ferry Lake Plaza. Gas companies show no concern for endangering the water supply by drilling too close to the lake. Diamond Bluff residents recently experienced the forceful takeover of their lakefront property mineral rights by SEECO. Arkansas Oil & Gas Commissioners ignored residents’ pleas to protect the shoreline. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) controls the sale of drilling leases on government land but has no idea if the government owns mineral rights under ALL of the lake. BLM claims it will not sell new gas drilling permits until an overall study is completed.

Save Greers Ferry Lake, Inc asks for your continued support in protecting the clean water and natural shoreline of Greers Ferry Lake for the future. SGFL, Inc is dedicated to continue its efforts to reduce the potential for adverse environmental, aesthetic, and safety issues which impact Greers Ferry Lake.  Please click here to join or renew your tax deductible membership.