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Water: Nonpoint Source Success Stories

Arkansas (Section 319I - 1994)

Since Arkansas' nonpoint source pollution concerns stem from agriculture--specifically animal waste--much of its NPS planning relates to this problem. In addition to the statewide program outlined in the following success story, Arkansas has developed education and training programs for liquid waste operators--particularly swine and dairy farmers.

Poultry Producers Learn New Methods to Control Waste

As one of the nation's top poultry producers, Arkansas grows some one billion broiler chickens a year, not including turkeys and laying hens. While greatly contributing to the state's economy, the poultry industry has also contributed to the degradation of its waters. Arkansas has focused its nonpoint source efforts in the Arkansas River Valley and the northwest and southwest parts of the state to eliminate pollution problems - resulting from animal waste.

A major poultry industry problem and one that has contributed greatly to the degradation of water quality is chicken litter disposal. To combat this problem, the Arkansas Soil and Water Conservation Commission--the lead nonpoint source agency--is providing technical assistance to land users. It has passed a portion of its nonpoint source funding, totaling $1,327,335, to conservation districts. This includes a section 319 grant of $730,737 and $596,598 in state matching funds. The conservation districts have then hired water quality technicians to prepare waste management plans for local poultry farmers. Since 1990, 15 technicians have each prepared 30 to 50 plans a year. The technicians help producers acquire the knowledge and skills needed to reduce or eliminate the animal waste entering lakes and streams. Since the project started in 1991, technicians have made 1,144 preliminary contacts with poultry growers and developed 841 water quality plans, of which 692 have been implemented. This has reduced excessive litter application by approximately 32,000 tons.

Disposing of dead birds is another major poultry production problem. Using a conservative 3 percent mortality rate, Arkansas producers must dispose of 27 million birds each year. Prior to 1992, growers followed the accepted practice--burying dead birds in a pit designed to work like a septic system.

Through a cooperative effort using an FY 1990 section 319 grant of $248,000 with state matching funds of $200,000, several agencies tested the management practice of dead bird disposal pits. Testing samples showed concentrations as high as 560 milligrams per liter (ppm) of ammonium, with concentrations of 200 ppm at a 15-foot downslope. As a result, dead-bird disposal pits have been removed from the list of acceptable management practices and have been outlawed in Arkansas. Again using a section 319 grant of $412,000 and state matching funds of $240,000, Arkansas is educating - producers about the study's results by demonstrating composting as an alternate method of disposal and through brochures and videos about closing dead-bird disposal pits and building composters. In addition, water quality technicians are helping landowners find a safe method of dead-bird disposal and providing further on-site assistance.

Cooperating agencies are the Arkansas Soil and Water Conservation Commission, the Arkansas Department of Pollution Control and Ecology, the Arkansas Water Resources Research Center, the University of Arkansas, the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, and the conservation districts.

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