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Oklahoma Water Appreciation Day Set for March 19
The eighth annual Oklahoma Water Appreciation Day will be held March 19 at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) will host the event featuring water agency and organization booths and displays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Capitol’s 4th floor rotunda.
“Water Appreciation Day presents a unique opportunity for groups to demonstrate the importance of Oklahoma’s water resources as well as provide information on their water management, conservation, and educational programs for state legislators and other government officials,” says J.D. Strong, OWRB Executive Director. “This celebration of Oklahoma’s diverse water resources is especially appropriate now as we wrestle with the impacts of a third straight year of drought and continue to implement the major initiatives of the 2012 Update of the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan.”
Following five years of formal development, the 2012 OCWP Update was delivered last year to Governor Fallin and members of the State Legislature. The OCWP Executive Report, 13 watershed planning region reports and dozens of supporting documents include the results of numerous technical and policy studies of state water supplies, infrastructure needs, and priority water management issues.
The OWRB, Oklahoma’s water agency since 1957, continues its original charge of identifying water problems and proposing policies for fair and equitable water laws. Additionally, the OWRB has provided over $2.9 billion in loans and grants to assist communities and rural water districts in the construction of water and wastewater facilities, administers 12,688 permits for the beneficial use of stream and groundwater, studies the quality and quantity of surface and groundwaters, ensures the safety of private dams, encourages responsible floodplain management, coordinates four interstate stream compacts, monitors the quantity and quality of Oklahoma’s stream and groundwaters, develops Oklahoma Water Quality Standards to curb water pollution, identifies pollution sources, restores water quality, and oversees statewide water planning.
For more information on Water Appreciation Day, call Josh McClintock at 405-530-8800.
Governor Declares March Flood Insurance Month
Each year in Oklahoma, thousands of citizens experience flood damage but lack the protection afforded through readily available flood insurance. To enhance awareness of the availability of federal flood insurance, as well as inform Oklahomans about intelligent floodplain management and development procedures, Governor Mary Fallin has designated March 2013 as "Flood Insurance Month" in Oklahoma.
“All too often, property owners and renters become aware of flood insurance and other protection measures only after a flood has financially devastated them or their community,” says J.D. Strong, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB).“ The Governor’s proclamation provides the OWRB, insurance companies, and emergency management organizations with a valuable opportunity to spread the word on the availability of relatively inexpensive flood insurance."
Strong points out that most flood insurance policies require a 30-day waiting period. “With the spring flooding season nearly upon us, now is the time for those citizens who reside in designated floodplains to purchase flood insurance, if they have not already,” he says, adding that a flood insurance policy can be purchased from any licensed property insurance agent.
In an effort to mitigate flooding emergencies, Governor Dewey Bartlett designated the OWRB as the agency to coordinate the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in 1969. The NFIP assists Oklahoma and its 393 member communities by making flood insurance available at affordable rates and helping communities make wise decisions concerning floodplain use. To be eligible for flood insurance, participants must establish a floodplain board, recognize floodplain boundaries, and restrict development in those areas. Such strategies typically result in reduced federal outlays to mitigate flood damages. The OWRB coordinates the NFIP in Oklahoma in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, Oklahoma Floodplain Managers Association, and Oklahoma Insurance Department.
As an integral part of Oklahoma’s spring flood insurance campaign, the OWRB is sponsoring one-day workshops throughout the state to update city, county, and tribal floodplain administrators on NFIP compliance requirements. The OWRB will also provide assistance in the development, administration, and enforcement of local floodplain management regulations that guide floodplain development. The Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM) exam will be offered to pre-approved candidates at the close of each training day. There is no registration fee for the workshops, which feature numerous state, federal, and local floodplain experts and officials.
More than 88 percent of homes and businesses in the state that lie in the 100-year floodplain have no flood insurance, according to Brady. “It is disheartening relatively few people take advantage of the benefits afforded through the purchase of flood insurance, especially since it is inexpensive and offers such comprehensive protection against one of our most common natural disasters," he said.
For more information on Flood Insurance Month, call Gavin Brady at 918-581-2924.
Invasive Species Eradicated at Stanley Draper
National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW.org) begins this Sunday, March 3-8, providing an excellent opportunity to inform Oklahomans about the devastating effects of invasive species on the environment. Eradication of the invasive plant “phragmites” or “common reed” (Phragmites australis) at Lake Stanley Draper demonstrates that increased public awareness can be an effective tool. Growth of this plant appears to be under control after eradication efforts became part of a larger revegetation project.
In 2005, Oklahoma City began collaborating with the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) on an EPA wetlands grant aimed at establishing native wetland plants along the perimeter and within the waters of Lake Stanley Draper. In assessing the project area, OWRB staff discovered a rapidly expanding phragmites population monopolizing many portions of the shoreline and reaching heights of up to fourteen feet. In the span of a few short years, this prolific reed, left unchecked, would have densely covered the entire shore of Lake Draper down into the first several feet of water. The almost impenetrable stands that develop would have destroyed any native grasses, shrubs, young trees, or aquatic plants, effectively replacing the diverse habitat for fish and wildlife with an almost sterile shoreline. According to Paul Koenig, limnologist for the OWRB, this plant would not only have changed the ecosystem but actually inhibited access to the water by visitors.
Once species identification was confirmed, the original EPA project was expanded to include active eradication. Oklahoma City lake staff applied specialized herbicide treatments made specifically safe for use in and around water sources. By 2010, the Phragmites population had been reduced by 79%. To ensure control of this prolific plant, Oklahoma City continued treatment through 2011. Since then, the population has continued to decline with only a very few unhealthy sprouts remaining.
Phragmites is one of 33 other non-native plant species threatening Oklahoma’s landscapes, lakes, and streams. Invasive species are not limited to plant life; there are many fish and other aquatic organisms that seriously damage the health of ecosystems across our state. Clearly, the first step in preventing the spread of these species is being able to identify them. More information is available at the Department of Wildlife’s website: www.wildlifedepartment.com/fishing/ans.htm.
A full report on the Lake Stanley Draper Revegetation project can be found at www.owrb.ok.gov/reports.
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Page last updated: March 11, 2013