What is the most common pollutant of river, streams and lakes? Which pollutant causes over $16 billion in damage to the environment? The answer is sediment. Many of us would probably call it "dirt" and not be aware of the impact an above-average amount of sediment can have on overall water quality.
The EPA has established sediment load and turbidity standards for each state.
Arkansas's standards focus on specific rivers and regions as well as activities that, if not managed properly, would impact water quality due to increased sediment. For example, turbidity in the Arkansas should not exceed 50 Nephelometric Turbidity Units (NTUs), while turbidity in bodies of water in the Ozark Highlands cannot exceed 10 NTUs. Also, the turbidity in rivers, streams or lakes cannot visibly increase due to municipal, industrial, agricultural, waste discharge or in-stream activities.
On Dec. 14, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) announced its filing of a complaint in Izard County Circuit Court against Bluebird Sand LLC, a sand mining company working in Izard County. The complaint cites a violation of state pollution laws involving one of the company's facilities near Mount Pleasant, Ark. Sediment-heavy water used for the facility's sand-cleaning operations was being allowed to flow into a nearby creek. The sediment pollution ultimately resulted in a fish kill.
Bluebird Sand shut down all operations at the facility until, they say, appropriate equipment can be installed to manage sediment discharge. However, the complaint filed by ADEQ hopes to shut down all operations until the company secures a wastewater discharge permit. ADEQ's complaint also seeks a $250,000 fine.