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Oklahoma Clean Rivers - Importance of Water Quality

Water... a valuable resource to our state, not only in quantity but quality as well.
Oklahoma Clean Rivers - Importance of Water Quality

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Show Dates

Show 1221: Oklahoma Clean Rivers - Importance of Water Quality

Air date: May 20, 2012

 

Transcript

 

ROB MCCLENDON:  WHEN IT COMES TO WATER QUALITY, OKLAHOMA HAS MADE MORE IMPROVEMENTS THAN ANY STATE IN THE NATION.  IN FACT, 11 STREAMS SCATTERED AROUND THE STATE ARE NOW BEING ADDED TO THE EPA’S LIST OF CLEAN WATER SUCCESS STORIES.

THE CITY OF TISHIMINGO IS ALL WET.

[RIVER—RUNNING WATER]

JUST HOW FOLKS LIKE IT; AN APPRECIATION OF THE AREA’S NATURAL WATER RESOURCES THAT GOES BACK TO THIS HISTORIC TOWN'S EARLIEST DAYS.

LEWIS PARKHILL:  WELL FOR STARTERS, TISHOMINGO AS WE KNOW IT WOULD NOT BE HERE WITHOUT WATER.  IN 1856, WHEN THE CHICKASAW NATION FORMED THEIR FIRST CONSTITUTION, THEY DID IT RIGHT OVER HERE AT GOOD SPRING, IT FLOWS INTO PENNINGTON CREEK, PENNINGTON CREEK COMES DOWN FROM THE ARBUCKLE-SIMPSON AQUIFER.  IT’S THE SOLE SOURCE OF THE CITY OF TISHOMINGO’S WATER SUPPLY; WE COULD NOT EXIST WITHOUT IT.

ROB:  LEWIS PARKHILL IS MAYOR OF THIS COMMUNITY OF JUST UNDER 4,000 PEOPLE.

LEWIS:  WE ARE TALKING ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT; WATER, IT’S NOT ONLY A HIGH-QUALITY STREAM THAT PRODUCES GREAT DRINKING WATER, BUT IT PRODUCES SCENIC BEAUTY THAT DRAWS PEOPLE IN TO SEE PENNINGTON CREEK.  IT’S A GREAT RECREATIONAL RESOURCE.  OUR CITY PARK, PENNINGTON CREEK PARK, JUST DOWN BELOW US HERE, HAS A PLAYGROUND FOR KIDS, THERE FAMILY REUNIONS ARE THERE, CHURCH PICNICS ARE THERE, 50-AMP RV SERVICE SO WE GET SOME TOURISM FROM OUT OF THE CITY AS WELL.  YOU CAN PUT A KAYAK IN HERE AND PADDLE, OH, A COUPLE OF MILES UP THE CREEK THROUGH SOME VERY SCENIC AREAS TO A GREAT OL’ SWIMMING HOLE; A DAM THERE WITH WATER COMING DOWN OVER IT.  VERY POPULAR. PEOPLE COME 4TH OF JULY FROM FORT WORTH, TEXAS TO HAVE PICNICS THERE.

ROB:  AND CERTAINLY A FAVORITE OF LOCALS.  NOW BY ALL APPEARANCES THE WATER HERE IN PENNINGTON CREEK IS ABSOLUTELY CRYSTAL CLEAR.  BUT THERE HAVE BEEN SOME CONCERN THAT A BACTERIA WHICH COMMONLY COMES FROM ANIMAL WASTE, COULD THREATEN THIS RIVER’S VIABILITY.  BUT THANKS TO CONSERVATION EFFORTS TO LIMIT LIVESTOCK’S ACCESS TO THE WATERWAY, AS WELL AS THE PLANTING OF NATURAL GRASSES THAT WOULD LIMIT THE RUNOFF, THIS WATER WAY IS NOW AS PRISTINE AS ANY IN THE NATION.  AND JUST ONE OF SEVERAL SUCCESS STORIES WORTHY OF THE DIGNITARIES GATHERED AT THE STATE CAPITOL TO TELL THEM.

CLAY POPE:  WE HAVE OVER 11 STREAMS THAT ARE GOING OFF OF THE EPA 303-D IMPAIRED LIST.

ROB:  THAT’S 11 OKLAHOMA STREAMS, JOINING 16 OTHERS, CLEANER TODAY THAN THEY WERE JUST A FEW YEARS AGO.  CLAY POPE IS WITH THE OKLAHOMA ASSOCIATION OF CONSERVATION DISTRICTS.

CLAY:  THIS IS A GREAT TESTIMONY TO THE WORK THE FARMERS AND RANCHERS AND OTHER LAND OWNERS ARE DOING IN OKLAHOMA IN PARTNERSHIP WITH USDA, NRCS, THE OKLAHOMA CONSERVATION COMMISSION, AND LOCAL CONSERVATION DISTRICTS; WORKING THROUGH VOLUNTARILY LOCALLY-LED PROGRAMS TO ADDRESS SOME OF THE THORNIEST WATER QUALITY ISSUES IN THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA.

ROB:  CLOSE TO 500 STREAMS ARE MONITORED ACROSS OKLAHOMA FOR SOMETHING CALLED NON-POINT SOURCE POLLUTION; A TECHNICAL TERM FOR RUNOFF FROM EVERYTHING FROM OUR LAWNS TO OUR FARMS.

STEVE HOUSE:  I THINK THIS IS ONE OF THE GREATEST THINGS THAT I’VE EVER DONE.

ROB:  AND CLEANING THEM UP COULDN’T BE DONE WITHOUT THE WORK OF PEOPLE LIKE STEVE HOUSE, A RANCHER LIVING AND WORKING ALONG THE NORTH CANADIAN RIVER.

STEVE:  WE FENCED OFF ABOUT 15 ACRES HERE; WE’VE GOT A GRASS FILTER THAT STRIPS AROUND THE EDGE, HELPS KEEP CATTLE OUT.  THE CATTLE DON’T DEPOSIT ANY MANURE IN THAT SYSTEM.  IT’S FILTERED, ANY RUNOFF THAT’S FILTERED IT COMES IN HERE.  THIS IS AN OLD RIVER CHANNEL, SO IT NATURALLY, IT NATURALLY DRAINS INTO THE RIVER; AND, IT’S GROWN QUITE A BIT IN THE LAST YEAR.

ROB:  AND IT IS THE VOLUNTARY EFFORTS OF FARMERS AND RANCHERS LIKE HOUSE THAT IMPROVE WATER QUALITY NOT JUST IN RURAL OKLAHOMA, BUT DOWNSTREAM IN OUR CITIES.

CLAY:  BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY WITHOUT THE AGRICULTURE PRODUCERS AND OTHER LANDOWNERS WILLING TO GO OUT AND DO WORK ON THEIR LAND, NONE OF THIS WOULD BE POSSIBLE.  EVERYTHING THAT WE’VE TALKED ABOUT IS COST SHARE; IT’S SHARING THE COST WITH THE INDIVIDUAL LAND OWNER.  THEY’VE PUT THEIR OWN MONEY ON THE LINE TO DO THESE PRACTICES; THEY TAKE LAND A LOT OF TIMES OUT OF PRODUCTION.  THEY MAKE MAJOR CHANGES IN THE FARMING AND RANCHING OPERATIONS TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN.

ROB:  JIM REESE IS OKLAHOMA’S SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE.

JIM REESE:  OFTEN AGRICULTURE GETS BLAMED FOR SOME OF THE CONCERNS WITH WATER QUALITY AND THIS IS PROOF POSITIVE TODAY THAT AGRICULTURE IS ACTUALLY THE SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM AND THAT WE’RE TAKING CARE OF THE WATER OURSELVES.

ROB:  WORKING TO REMOVE STREAMS FROM THE LIST OF IMPAIRED WATERWAYS; BUT ALSO ENSURING OTHER CREEKS AND RIVERS NEVER GET THERE.  DON ARMES IS THE CHAIRMAN OF THE OKLAHOMA HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES APPROPRIATIONS SUB-COMMITTEE.

DON ARMES:  WE STARTED LEARNING ABOUT HOW TO CARE BETTER FOR OUR LAND IN THE DUST BOWL.  WE EXPERIENCED A DROUGHT LAST YEAR THAT WOULD HAVE SHOWN, THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN AS BAD AS THE DROUGHT THAT WE EXPERIENCED IN THE DUST BOWL, BUT WE WERE READY.  WE’VE LEARNED NOW ABOUT HOW TO CARE FOR OUR WATER, OUR STREAMS AND THINGS LIKE THAT, AND ALL THE WATER IN OKLAHOMA IS A REALLY HOT ISSUE RIGHT NOW AS WE, AS WE STRUGGLE TO KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH OUR WATER.  I THINK THE NUMBER ONE THING IS WE NEED A GOOD CLEAN WATER SUPPLY AND I THINK THIS PROGRAM ABSOLUTELY IS IMPERATIVE TO MAKE SURE THAT CONTINUES.

ROB:  PROTECTING A NATURAL RESOURCE THAT WE ALL ENJOY AND DEPEND UPON.

[RIVER—RUNNING WATER]

WHEN WE RETURN, WE LOOK AT A PARTNERSHIP TO CLEAN UP SOUTH CENTRAL OKLAHOMA’S BLUE RIVER.