MALVERN, Ark – Cattle Ranchers in Malvern say they’re frustrated after months of dealing with a water contamination issue in a local creek.
This past summer, an investigation was conducted by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality after ranchers reported seeing black and gray water in Chatman Creek.
After the investigation, ADEQ said that the toxins in the creek were released by Anthony Timberlands Inc.
Alex Huell owns a ranch nearby with his family. He said the contaminated water has ruined what once was a beautiful space.
“All these trees are dead. The shrubbery in the water is dead. All the bushes are dead,” Huell said.
Huell said he first noticed the issue in 2021 when his cattle started to die.
“Three-year-old cows, two-year-old cows that were perfectly healthy when I purchased them and four or five months later, they’re dropping dead,” Huell said.
Huell said the cows had been unknowingly drinking from the contaminated water, causing them to die or become ineligible to sell.
“That’s a lot of meat, that’s a lot of food that could be in the market for people to eat,” Huell said.
For months, he and other ranchers said they have been trying to get answers as their business sits in the muck.
Tuesday, State agencies tried to address those concerns, holding a community meeting at Arkansas State University Three Rivers.
The meeting started with a presentation from ADEQ, Arkansas Game and Fish, and the Arkansas Department of Health, updating residents on the progress of their findings.
A representative from ADEQ said they have been working to clean up the issue and recent lab results show water quality is improving.
Ranchers say they’re not buying it.
“I don’t think it’s adequate,” Huell said.
Frustrations stay high and many said they feel their voices aren’t being heard.
A spokesperson from ADH said tests of the water don’t show elevated levels of metal and don’t have any concerns that the water will have any adverse effects on the general population.