committee studying Oklahoma's water quality standards for scenic rivers
has agreed that the phosphorus limit of .037 mg/L total phosphorus is
valid. Now, Arkansas and Oklahoma have no reason to argue any further on
the limit and can now work on other important issues to protect
the Illinois River watershed as well as other scenic rivers. For more information on the study including a draft final report by Dr. Ryan King of Baylor University, see the recent article on this page.
STIR President Denise Deason-Toyne had the following statement on the agreement reached today in Tulsa:
"Oklahoma's phosphorus limit for scenic rivers has been validated and
there is no longer a reason we can't work with Arkansas to protect the
Illinois River and Tenkiller Lake in other important ways. That includes
limits on nitrogen, sediment, mining and bacteria. We commend the
committee and Baylor University for their excellent scientific study.
The committee met for the final time on Dec. 19 in Fort Smith, Arkansas to write its final report to the Governors of Arkansas and Oklahoma.
The final motion approved by the committee was on a specific value for phosphorus. Instead of a range of values, i.e. 0.027-0.047 mg/L, the agreement today set 0.035 mg/L as the point at which nuisance algae such as Cladophora degrade the rivers studied. Oklahoma's phosphorus limit for scenic rivers is 0.037 mg/L total phosphorus. The 0.035 mg/L limit is based on a six-month average for phosphorus in water quality samples taken at "critical conditions" which are to be defined in the final report but basically meaning base flow conditions.
Remarks about today's agreement
Dr. Marty Matlock, Arkansas committee member:
"The U.S. EPA's TMDL (total maximum daily load report) is coming. We know there will be waste load allocations. So this is not done. We're just getting started."
"This (study) is an anchor document that will be cited nationally, probably first in Florida and later in Missouri"
Ed Fite, Grand River Dam Authority vice president: "I hope this (study) is applied to scenic rivers in Arkansas. This is a huge home run for water quality but are we there yet? No. We must continue to focus on water quality."
Shanon Philips, Oklahoma committee member: "There no longer is a valid excuse (by Arkansas and Oklahoma) to not work together on water quality."