SCOTT-- A breeze frequently blows across Old River Lake, where cormorants hunt the deeper water, and grandchildren splash in the shallow. Pelicans and geese bob on the surface, and lucky fishermen pull catfish from the bottom.
It's clean and quiet here in this small community in southeast Pulaski County, and 300 members of the Save Scott and Old River Association are determined to keep it that way.
The group declared victory this week after an 18-month battle to keep sewage sludge from being used as fertilizer on an 800-acre parcel in Scott.
"We have something really wonderful here that's worth protecting," said John Riles, a broad-shouldered sportsman and grandfather of three. He lives on the shore of the ear-shaped lake that was formed when the Arkansas River carved a new course and left the Old River Lake behind.
Riles and about 25 others gathered at the Scott Volunteer Fire Department Wednesday morning when it was announced that the sludge will be hauled elsewhere.
"This is hopefully the last time we'll have to call a press conference about sludge in Scott," said Jerry Butler, who is chairman of the Save Scott and Old River Association.
The battle for a sludge-free Scott began in April 1999, when resident Marlene Lantrip spotted a legal notice about a permit request before the Department of Environmental Quality in the newspaper. The Wilcox Land and Cattle Co. was planning to fertilize portions of an 800-acre plot along Colonel Maynard Road with byproducts from waste-water treatment plants.
The stench would drive residents indoors and property values down, Lantrip feared. Butler worried that sludge would seep through ;soughs and wetlands into the lake, contaminating drinking water with "bugs you can't see."
The Wilcox Land and Cattle Co. has spread similar loads of waste
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