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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Legislators decide to spend more than $300,000 to study runoff from a hog farm in North Arkansas.

C and H Hog Farm has been heavily debated, and now the Newton County property will open its gates to an environmental study. The measure comes following concerns that the waste could pollute the Buffalo River. The University of Arkansas will perform the monitoring, and the university will install and sample about 50 wells in and around the hog farm and make sure runoff is not contaminating the land or Buffalo River.

"Monitoring within stream, above and below the farm, and then we'll identify where there are flows in the fields into big creek," said Dr. Mark Cochran, the vice president of Arkansas Agriculture System.

Cochran said a group of scientists will focus on the hog waste.

"We're going to be looking at water quality monitoring that's associated with the potential flows of bacteria off of this hog farm operation...both from surface runoff and subsurface runoff," explained Cochran.

The project will require man power, and Cochran believes it will likely last five years if appropriately funded.

"We have six faculty that will be engaged in this, but by the time we consider our student and our technicians off of it, we'll probably have a team of about 20 employees that will be involved," said Cochran.

Thursday, a legislative panel approved $340,000 to kick-start the first year of the monitoring. Representative Nate Bell said it is money well spent.

"Everybody is concerned to make sure the river is protected. Everybody is concerned that the farmer's rights to use his property are protected, and I think this project strikes a good balance from that," said Bell.

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality said the farm will not be fined if issues are uncovered by the study unless the farm somehow violates its permit. ADEQ will receive the findings of this study and then it will be open for the public's review.

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