Arkansas county tries to curb runoff into water that flows to Oklahoma

Monday, September 29th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ Washington County is sponsoring a new program to help curb runoff of phosphorus into lakes and rivers in Northwest Arkansas.

Phosphorus is the main point of contention in water talks between Oklahoma and Arkansas. Oklahoma alleges that runoff pollution from the fast-growing region has led to higher counts of phosphorus in rivers that flow into Oklahoma. The poultry industry gets much of the blame, but the new program is looking at phosphorous that comes from lawn fertilizer.

The new program by the Washington County Conservation District offers free tests and is developing a plan for proper fertilizer use in the Illinois River watershed.

The program began Aug. 1 and officials expect to finish 14 properties by the end of September, said David Duncan, a water quality technician who runs the program. In all, the district plans to assess 75 homes and businesses by August 2004.

The Arkansas Soil and Water Conservation Commission will be able to use the information to determine how much fertilizer should be applied in cities, said Casey Dunigan, a resource conservationist with the Washington County district.

The program is the first in Arkansas to focus on fertilizer use in urban areas, said Tony Ramick of the Soil and Water Conservation Commission, which awarded the district a $58,000 grant in July.

Phosphorus can lead to algae blooms in water that kill other plants and animals.