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Press Release
May 5, 2015

Oklahoma Water Monitoring Reports Available

The Oklahoma Water Resources Board’s Beneficial Use Monitoring Program (BUMP) annual reports of statewide water quality data for lakes, streams, and groundwater are now available online at www.owrb.ok.gov/BUMP.

The BUMP Lakes and Streams reports feature summaries of physical, chemical, and biological data obtained through sampling at approximately 130 lakes and 100 stream sites throughout the state, and include an assessment of beneficial use impairments or threats for each site. The online version contains summary pages listed by stream site or lake site with links to downloadable data. Agency monitoring staff sample rivers in the network annually and lakes on a three-year rotation.

According to Derek Smithee, OWRB Water Quality Division Chief, BUMP data gathered in 2014 indicate that the major water quality concerns of Oklahoma lakes continues to be excess nutrients and turbidity. Data also indicate that 30% of the lakes sampled in 2014 were “hyper-eutrophic,” which means they contain an excessive amount of nutrients that could lead to taste and odor problems. In improving order of quality, about 35% of lakes sampled in 2014 were considered eutrophic, 32% were mesotrophic, and 3% were oligotrophic (waters relatively low in nutrients).

The vast majority of streams sampled within the past two years were suitable for uses related to public and private water supply. However, inorganic turbidity caused by sediments from runoff was the primary detriment to fish and wildlife propagation. Bacteria were the major concern for recreation that involves primary body contact with the water. A small number of sampled streams had problems associated with dissolved solids (chlorides and sulfates), which limits their suitability for irrigation. A number of streams were also identified as having high levels of phosphorus and chlorophyll-a.

The Groundwater Report contains summaries of aquifers sampled through the Groundwater Mapping and Assessment Program (GMAP). The summaries show nutrient, mineral, and metal statistics as well as general parameters, such as depth to water, alkalinity, hardness, and total dissolved solids (TDS). GMAP was established in 2013 as the state’s first comprehensive groundwater quality and quantity monitoring program. A network of approximately 750 wells in Oklahoma’s 21 major aquifers will be phased in by 2016 and sampled on a four-year rotation.

This year’s report contains data from phase two of GMAP sampling, which includes the Vamoosa-Ada, Salt Fork of the Arkansas River, Arkansas River, North Fork of the Red River, Salt Fork of the Red River, Tillman Terrace, and Washita River alluvial and bedrock major aquifers. Summaries for each aquifer in the GMAP network give an overview of the aquifer's geology and focus on water quality constituents that are of primary concern. Groundwater level hydrographs show depth to water over the longest period of record. For the aquifers sampled in 2013-2014, the hydrographs generally indicate declining water levels across the state, which is consistent with below average rainfall, below average recharge, and increased pumping.

Data provided by the BUMP program plays an essential role in the state’s water quality management decision-making process by helping to identify waters experiencing impairments as well as the cause of declining water quality. BUMP data is also invaluable to the development and refinement of Oklahoma’s Water Quality Standards. Beneficial uses, the backbone of the Water Quality Standards, are assigned to individual lakes, streams, and stream segments based upon the primary benefits derived from those waters by the public.

According to J.D. Strong, OWRB Executive Director, data collected by the BUMP teams from Oklahoma's lakes, streams, and aquifers are invaluable to the management and protection of the state's water resources. "State leaders are beginning to recognize that water management and water policy decisions will only be effective if they are backed by sound science," says Strong.

For more information on the OWRB’s Beneficial Use Monitoring Program, please contact Derek Smithee, Water Quality Division Chief, at 405-530-8800 or visit the OWRB web site at www.owrb.ok.gov.

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