June 20, 2006
Doug Szenher Public Outreach and
Assistance Division Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 8913
Little Rock, AR 72219-8913

Mr. Szenher: On behalf of the 24,800 Arkansas and Louisiana BASS members, we thank you for the opportunity to comment on the El Dorado Joint Wastewater Pipeline Permit (NPDES Permit AR0050296). We believe that this pipeline, if permitted under the current application, will result in serious impacts to the aquatic ecosystem of the Lower Ouachita River, including Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge.

The results of the nutrient modeling by GBMc and Associates were not released in sufficient time to allow for public review prior to the end of the comment period. However, both the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality had serious concerns with the modeled parameters and supporting data. These concerns were brought to the attention of the ADEQ during the modeling process, yet no changes were made to the model prior to issuance of the final report. Furthermore, no changes have been made to the draft permit that might address any of these concerns.

One of the applicants, El Dorado Chemical Company, has multiple citations for both water and air quality violations. "Some of the most severe water quality problems exist in the unnamed tributary from El Dorado Chemical Company (ELCC), in Flat Creek and Salt Creek. ELCC tributary contains toxic ammonia levels, very high nitrates, and very high minerals (SO4/TDS); the source is from the El Dorado Chemical Company Discharge" (ADEQ Water Division Report WQ05-07-01 2004). Rather than forcing the ELCC to clean-up their discharges, the ADEQ's approval of this joint pipeline would encourage the ELCC to continue or even increase their pollution practices, while remaining within arbitrary limits of discharging to a larger stream.

The Ouachita River is currently on the EPA's 303(d) list for zinc. However, this permit fails to address the measures needed to prevent further impacts of zinc discharges in the Ouachita River through this pipeline. "Storm water runoff from the north side of the ELCC plant results in toxic levels of copper, zinc, and ammonia in the tributary approximately 1-mile below the facility" (ADEQ Water Division Report WQ98-04-1 1998). This permit will allow the ELCC to discharge up to a maximum of 14.75 lbs of zinc per day directly into the Ouachita River, an apparent increase from their current, individual NPDES permit, and a flagrant disregard for the Clean Water Act.

BASS strongly opposes the approval of this permit. The proposed pipeline simply provides a means for the co-applicants to avoid non-compliance penalties at the expense of the natural resources of Arkansas and Louisiana. Both the ADEQ and the applicants have a responsibility to address pollution issues at the source, rather than passing the problems directly to the Ouachita River. If the mission of the ADEQ is truly "To protect, enhance and restore the natural environment for the well-being of all Arkansans", ADEQ will not approve this permit as written.

Sincerely,

Chris Horton Associate Director,
Conservation BASS
P.O. Box 10000 Lake Buena Vista,
FL 32830 407-566-BASS Fax 407-566-2072
conservation@bassmaster.com