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Mayflower oil spill

6A — Sunday, July 21, 2013

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EPA-certified and recognized tests used samples taken from oil spill site By ANGELA SPENCER


Log Cabin Staff Writer

Dr. Jennifer Bouldin, director of the Ecotoxicology Research Facility and associate professor of environmental biology at Arkansas State University, and graduate student Molly Kennon used three tests to see any indicators of toxicity in the water and sediment samples collected from the lake and around Mayflower. Two tests were used to test the water from the six sites. Both are Environmental Protection Agency-certified Whole Effluent Toxicity — or WET — tests. According to the EPA, WET tests are usually used to measure wastewater’s effects on specific test organisms — in this case C. dubia and fathead minnows — ability to survive, grow and reproduce.

See how the testing was done in the lab at Arkansas State University.

Angela Spencer staff photo

Samples of sediment from six sites around Mayflower, along with a control sample, go through sediment testing at the Arkansas State University Ecotoxicology Research Facility. Ten bloodworms were introduced to each sample and, after 21 days, researchers measured the survival and growth of the worms to pinpoint anomalies between the sites and the control.

WET tests are used by System to determine fa- ogy Research Facility is the National Pollutant cility permits. an EPA-certified lab ofDischarge Elimination The ASU Ecotoxicol- fering WET testing for

local municipalities and industries. The same tests used for those clients was used on the Mayflower samples. “When we do pointsource discharges like we do with municipalities and things like that, that’s what they recommend,” Bouldin said. “Their protocol is for the C. dubia and the fathead minnow for warm freshwater species.” Bouldin said it is important to run both the C. dubia test and the fathead minnow test. The C. dubia are more sensitive to the elements expected in the Mayflower samples, but it is impor-

tant to run both in case there is something unexpected. “Following that with looking for any kind of contaminant is just good practice because it’s a standardized technique,” she said. The sediment was tested with bloodworms that burrow and ingest the material. The bloodworms are not a WET testing technique because they do not test water, but Bouldin said it is an EPA-recognized organism. “They’re just not described for the NPDES permit testing because obviously that’s aqueous only and this is sediment,” she said. The C. dubia used in the test were from an EPA lab. The fathead minnows and bloodworms were cultivated in the Ecotoxicology Research Facility.

Lake Conway a haven for fishermen By ANGELA SPENCER Log Cabin Staff Writer

Find video and a slideshow of Lake Conway online at

Non-game fish in the lake include spotted gar, longnose gar, shortnose gar, yellow bullhead, black buffalo, bigmouth buffalo, smallmouth buffalo, grass carp, chain pickerel, bowfin, freshwater drum, yellow bass, gizzard shad and threadfin shad. Horton said Lake Conway is stocked on an annual basis. Currently, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is stocking Florida largemouth bass through the hatchery and the nursery pond, depending on if the nursery pond is being used for something else. “This year, the hatchery actually had an excess production of largemouth bass,” Horton said. “We had an additional 30,000 stocked just a few weeks ago, so there are 80,000 that we stocked this year.” For fishermen looking for the best places to catch their fish, generally good places to go are Gold Creek, the Adams Lake area, Dix Creek Highway 89 bridge and the dam. When asked if the Mayflower oil spill had impacted the fishing community, Horton said there had not been results from water sampling to be worried about. “To date, there has not been any results from any water quality sampling that we know of, conducted by Arcadis, the company hired by Exxon to conduct water quality samples, or from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, that show that there was any elevated levels of contaminants related to the oil spill in the main body of the lake,” he said. He noted there was confusion about the cove area and that technically it was part of the lake and was impacted by the oil. To answer a black-and-white question of “was their oil in the lake,” the answer is “yes,” but it was confined to the cove, he said. “We don’t have any fishhealth advisories,” he said. “The fish are perfectly fine to eat in the main body of the lake.”

Angela Spencer staff photo

Sediment from the bottom of Lake Conway is gathered for testing at Arkansas State University’s Ecotoxicology Research Facility.

Angela Spencer staff photo

Graduate student Molly Kennon replaces the water in the C. Dr. Jennifer Bouldin, director of the Ecotoxicology Research Facility dubia testing. Kennon said her experience with the Mayflower and associate professor of environmental biology at Arkansas State water and sediment testing at the Arkansas State University lab University, and graduate student Molly Kennon gather water from Lake helped give her more experience with the EPA-certified tests the lab conducts. Conway for testing. Angela Spencer staff photo


Brother and sister Jim Fugatt and Judy Richardson grew up fishing on Lake Conway. Richardson has memories going back to when she was a toddler, sitting on a blanket in her parents’ boat. “It was their favorite lake,” she said. “We were brought up on this lake.” Fugatt and Richardson now live on different ends of the lake and continue the family tradition of fishing and watching the wildlife flourish before their eyes. Richardson said the lake is “almost like a paradise,” and she has watched eagles grow from nest to flight and deer take advantage of the surrounding flora. Fugatt fishes about twice a week and has won awards for bass he caught in the lake. “I’ve lived on the lake for about 38 years,” he said. “It’s really convenient for me and I’ve got a lot of friends on the lake.” Richardson said she has fished every inch of the lake and enjoys her time there. “I’ve fished a lot of lakes in Arkansas and this, to me, is the best,” she said. Lake Conway was constructed to provide hunting and fishing opportunities for people in central Arkansas. The construction occurred between 1948 and 1951. It stretched about 8.5 miles north and south and covers 6,700 acres. “As far as we know, it is the largest lake that has ever been constructed by the state wildlife conservation agency,” said Lake Manager Matt Horton. Horton made a presentation about the lake and fishing at the Faulkner County Natural Resource Center July 18. The average depth of the lake is 4.5 feet, Horton said, and stumps plague much of the lake. “Lake Conway has almost all the warm water fish species in Arkansas in it,” Horton said. These include largemouth bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, blue catfish, white bass, bluegill, redear, green sunfish, warmouth, white crappie and black crappie.


Two WET methods

Bouldin and Kennon used two independent seven-day EPA-recommended WET methods (toxicity tests) to test the water. One involved Ceriodaphnia dubia, a small freshwater organism that is a species of water flea. During the seven day test, researchers compared the survival and reproduction of the C. dubia in water from each of the six sites to the survival and reproduction of a control water. The other test involved Pimephales promelas, or fathead minnows, cultivated in the lab. Instead of measuring survival and reproduction as they were doing with the C. dubia, the researchers measured survival and growth in the fathead minnows. Again, fathead minnows in the water from the six sites were compared to fathead minnows in a control water.

Angela Spencer staff photo

C. dubia sit in water from six Mayflower sites alongside a water control. Researchers at the Arkansas State University Ecotoxicology Research Facility measured the survival and reproduction of the minuscule organisms after seven days to pinpoint anomalies between the sites and the control.