Gov. Mike Beebe tells me this morning that his office has formally asked the Legislative Council to approve at its next meeting his release of $250,000 in rainy-day funds to contract with University of Arkansas specialists to intensify normal water-quality monitoring in and around the C&H Hog Farm and the Buffalo River.
Beebe confirms there has been a little resistance to this enhanced monitoring from Cargill Foods, which contracts with C&H and other area landowners, but that, essentially, he doesn’t care.
He says Cargill is not a party to the state’s dutiful consideration of how it might beef up in this case the normal regulatory oversight provided by the state Environmental Quality Department.
The normal procedure is for DEQ to do periodic checks of the Buffalo itself and to require the landowner to submit samples and stand for on-site inspections.
In this extraordinary case, Beebe says, that simply didn’t strike him as sufficient.
What these UA scientists would do is set up monitoring wells, and then keep those wells checked frequently, at points chosen by the experts above and below the Buffalo.
The idea, Beebe says, is to arm the state with plenty of authoritative scientific data should it see a need to move to restrict farm operations to protect the Buffalo.