The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality had tentatively approved a new permit for a hog farm near Mount Judea.
The department on Wednesday issued a draft for its decision approving the permit for C&H Hog Farms, the Arkansas Democratic-Gazette reported.
The company applied for a permit in April to keep operating under the state's no-discharge permit program. C&H Farms applied after the department canceled the type of permit the facility previously had been granted.
The pig farming facility has led to changes to department regulations, public hearings and thousands of dollars in state-funded research on the facility's impact on its surroundings in the Buffalo River watershed.
C&H Hog Farms opened in May 2013 after having its permit approved by the department in late 2012. It has been accused of posing a pollution risk to the river because of the farm's size. It is permitted to house up to 8, 500 sows and piglets. It's two waste holding ponds would contain up to about 2.4 million gallons of hog manure.
Opponents at the time said the department's public notice process prevented people from learning about the permit and commenting on it.
The new tentatively approved permit opens a 30-day public comment period on the facility.
"The reason this is an important opportunity is because we were denied the opportunity in the first place," said Gordon Watkins, president of the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, which was formed in 2013 to oppose C&H's operations.
Currently, state-funded researchers working with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture continue to monitor the farm to see whether it is affecting the river and haven't released definite findings.
Last year, the Buffalo National River had 1.46 million visitors.
C&H didn't immediately return messages from the Democratic-Gazette seeking comment.