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SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. -- Officials from Arkansas and
Oklahoma have begun discussions on ways to clean up the Illinois
Members of the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission and Fayetteville
city staff met Thursday and pledged to clean up the Illinois River
watershed. They want to reduce the level of phosphorus in the
Illinois River at the states' line.
Those in Oklahoma fear the growing population of northwest
Arkansas is starting to harm their water quality.
Larger northwest Arkansas cities want to attract two companies,
Harmony Products and DukeSolutions, which are interested in turning
tons of the region's chicken litter and sludge into fertilizer and
thermal energy. That would reduce phosphorus levels in the watershed
more than Fayetteville could do alone.
Morril Harriman, executive vice president of the Poultry
Federation, told the group that poultry companies want the same
result, but they're not participating for now in the cities' plan.
Fayetteville wants to avoid a fight with Oklahoma over a new
sewage treatment plant.
Fayetteville Mayor Dan Coody said Oklahoma and Arkansas officials
will cooperate this time. The two sides fought to the U.S. Supreme
Court last time Fayetteville expanded its sewage treatment system.
Scenic Rivers Commission officials said they learned that legal
fights didn't accomplish better water quality.
Coody pointed out that if northwest Arkansas cities remove litter
and sludge from the land, their own residents will also benefit.
Extra phosphorus also drains downstream to the White River, which
flows into the region's water supply.
``We wanted to forgo the angst and animosity that's history in
years past. It's a new day ... we have every reason to become
partners,'' Coody said.
If the plan city officials put forward really reduces phosphorus
in the river, the Scenic Rivers Commission could persuade other
Oklahoma officials to cooperate, said Rick Stubblefield, a commission
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