The Oklahoma Water Resources Board The Water Agency

Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Phosphorus Criteria Review

OWRB Phosphorus Criteria Review Completed

The Oklahoma Water Resources Board unanimously accepted these reports at the April 10th, 2012 board meeting:

Final Report - Scenic Rivers Phosphorus Criteria Review – Majority Report

Arkansas TAG Members’ Minority Report to OWRB


List of Related Documents
MP3 of August 11, 2011 Public Meeting

Background

The Oklahoma Legislature resolved to protect a handful of treasured streams when, in 1970, it passed the “Scenic Rivers Act” (82 O.S. 1451-1471). This and subsequent legislation identified six streams to be designated as “Scenic River Areas”: Flint Creek, Illinois River, Barren Fork Creek, Upper Mountain Fork River and Lee and Little Lee Creeks.

The primary purpose of the Scenic Rivers Act and the relevant water quality standards regulations is to preserve the high quality and unique characteristics of these outstanding resource waters:

“The Oklahoma Legislature finds that some of the free-flowing streams and rivers of Oklahoma possess such unique natural scenic beauty, water conservation, fish, wildlife and outdoor recreational values of present and future benefit to the people of the state that it is the policy of the Legislature to preserve these areas for the benefit of the people of Oklahoma. For this purpose there are hereby designated certain "scenic river areas" to be preserved as a part of Oklahoma's diminishing resource of free-flowing rivers and streams.”

In 2001, it was recognized that both empirical and anecdotal evidence over the preceding two decades indicated that, the Illinois River’s status as a Scenic River was seriously threatened by excess nutrients. These nutrients - primarily phosphorus - were seen to be causing accelerated primary productivity in the Illinois, resulting in significant growths of both attached algae (periphyton) and suspended algae (phytoplankton) that affected the historical river clarity and substrate quality. Without intervention, the Illinois River’s exceptional ecological and recreational significance was in jeopardy. Consequently, in 2002 the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) adopted a total phosphorus criterion of .037 mg/L to protect these Scenic Rivers.

EPA approval in December 2003 of the criterion was followed by a “Statement of Joint Principles and Actions” agreement signed by Oklahoma and Arkansas. Along with phosphorus limits for municipal discharges, poultry litter application controls and a monitoring plan, the agreement also stated that:

“Oklahoma periodically reevaluates all of its water quality standards. In particular, Oklahoma will reevaluate Oklahoma’s .037 mg/l criterion for total phosphorus in Oklahoma’s Scenic Rivers by 2012, based on the best scientific information available at that time, and with the full, timely inclusion of officials from the State of Arkansas representing both point and nonpoint source dischargers.”

A technical advisory group (TAG) with representatives from EPA, Arkansas, the Cherokee Nation and Oklahoma has been formed to evaluate the “best scientific information” and to recommend if additional criteria development is necessary.

Questions/Comments:
Jason Childress
Water Quality Programs Division
405.530.8800
3800 N. Classen Blvd.
Oklahoma City, OK 73118


Best Scientific Information Request

To facilitate its review of the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers phosphorus criterion, the OWRB requests contributions of “best scientific information” regarding numerical phosphorus criteria. Studies and information should focus on phosphorus concentrations and its in-stream and downstream effects on algae, impacts to the aquatic community, fisheries, ecological integrity, recreation and aesthetics of the Scenic Rivers. The OWRB also requests “best scientific information” related to duration, frequency, flow, and seasonal considerations associated with phosphorus and these effects. Information may include scientific studies, water quality models and other information concerning phosphorus in rivers like the Illinois River, Barren Fork, Flint Creek, Lee and Little Lee Creeks and the Upper Mountain Fork River. Scientific information submitted will be evaluated for its scientific quality and merit, relevance to the Scenic Rivers and how it will restore and preserve the unique natural scenic beauty, water conservation, fish, wildlife and outdoor recreational values. Information ranking by the TAG will follow the attached guidelines.

Please send studies, reports and other “best scientific information” no later than August 1, 2011 to the above address.


Public Meeting

OWRB and the Technical Advisory Group met on August 11, 2011 to discuss the Scenic Rivers Criterion review process. The public was invited to present scientific information regarding the Scenic Rivers phosphorus criterion and its suitability.

Audio Transcript from August 11, 2011

Related Documents


General


Scientific Information Received


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