Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

January 17, 2012

STIR decries lawmakers’ letter to EPA

TAHLEQUAH — Just months before a phosphorus limit for the Illinois River watershed becomes effective, several Oklahoma and Arkansas lawmakers may be seeking a delay in a study of the issue by the Environmental Protection Agency.

An earlier Daily Press report indicated a group is forming in Northwest Arkansas to continue a regional effort in both verifying the need and financial viability to achieve the .037 mpl phosphorus water quality standard set by Oklahoma.

On Dec. 9, Sens. Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla., along with several Arkansas lawmakers, co-authored a letter to the EPA requesting the agency take time to “thoroughly vet” the study before making any final decisions on Total Maximum Daily Load of phosphorus.

Save The Illinois River Inc., a local, nonprofit coalition that seeks to protect the river and Lake Tenkiller, has also written a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, stating lawmakers may be trying to prolong the completion and implementation of the EPA’s study.

“Founded in 1984, STIR has played an important part in the adoption of significant water quality regulations in Oklahoma,” wrote STIR President Denise Deason-Toyne.

“One of these protective regulations is an instream numeric limit for phosphorus in legally designated Oklahoma Scenic Rivers. STIR is very concerned that there may currently be an effort to steer the EPA’s TMDL study in order to prolong and confuse its completion and implementation. Those responsible for this effort may also be targeting the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers phosphorus limit which has been approved by the EPA, our governor, and the Oklahoma legislature.”

Deason-Toyne indicated the fact that Arkansas lawmakers oppose the standard comes as no surprise, but she finds it troubling that Inhofe, Coburn and Boren have joined the fray.

“We must know who is polluting the Illinois River watershed and from where the pollution is coming,” wrote Deason-Toyne. “The EPA’s TMDL, we sincerely hope, will answer these questions once and for all.”

The letter signed by Inhofe, Coburn and Boren states the EPA’s model, once complete, will be used as a regulatory tool for decision-making on nutrient reduction efforts in the watershed.

“We believe most stakeholders, including the EPA, sincerely wish to avoid the use of flawed modeling, which could lead to the development of a TMDL based on unsound information and accordingly inflict unneeded and inappropriate control mandates,” states the letter.

STIR member Kathy Tibbits believes Arkansas environmental agencies may have skewed results on to water samples.

“I’d say ‘flawed modeling based on unsound information’ would include Arkansas’ Department of Environmental Quality’s skewed sampling,” said Tibbits. “We wouldn’t want to sample when torrents kick up the settled bed sludge, would we? That would give us a too-accurate range of readings.”

STIR members, including Ed Brocksmith, believe the EPA’s endeavor is important because it’s a scientific study of the sources of pollution for the watershed and what must be done to control it.

“Some people call it a pollution diet,” said Brocksmith. “The study is very important, because while we know the impact of the point sources of pollution, such as  wastewater treatment plants, we don’t have a firm grip on nonpoint sources, like poultry waste. We hope the study will give us an indication on that front and how big a problem it is. Incorporated in this is another study that will tell us how to protect Tenkiller Lake.”

Excess phosphorus and bacteria from poultry waste have had a negative impact on the Illinois River, and are causing “eutrophication,” a process in which bodies of water receive excess nutrients, stimulating excess plant growth – in Lake Tenkiller.

“STIR believes that the TMDL study of the Illinois River watershed, which should by all rights have been completed many years ago under the Clean Water Act, is essential in order to protect Tenkiller Lake µand the Illinois River,” wrote Deason-Toyne.

“STIR supports the need for adequate funding for the EPA TMDL study, and we support the need to use the best available science for the study. However, we would be very concerned if the TMDL study completion and implementation are unnecessarily delayed because of dirty water advocates.”

Text Only
Local News
  • rf-poker-run-main.jpg Poker run

    Fundraiser was in the cards for local philanthropic group

    It was perfect weather, with temperatures in the high 80s Saturday, as boaters filled their vessels with friends for a fun afternoon on Lake Tenkiller. A crowd gathered at Cookson Bend Marina, and folks lined up to support a local charity event.
    As fundraisers go, the Beta Sigma Phi Mu Omega Poker Run last Saturday could be considered huge success, as nearly $9,000 was collected.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • bilbrey-anthony.jpg Man arrested for blackmailing woman for sex

    Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies put a man behind bars Monday night after he allegedly tried to blackmail a woman by threatening to post nude photos of her on the Internet if she did not meet him for sex.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Peach_photo_2.jpg Peach crop lean, but fruit still available

    Summer is all about peaches in Porter – especially at Livesay Orchard.
    The Livesay Orchard is still busy a week after Porter’s annual peach festival. The orchard’s crop this year was cut in half from what had previously been expected, according to Kent Livesay, one of the owners of the orchard.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • jackson-jaymee.jpg Tot’s injuries prompt abuse charges for two local residents

    A Tahlequah couple was formally charged Tuesday with child neglect and child abuse after an 18-month-old girl was found with a number of injuries.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • proctor-micah.jpg Pair accused of threatening man

    Two men behind bars at the Cherokee County Detention Center are accused of wielding a knife and gun and assaulting a man at a trailer park on West Keetoowah Sunday afternoon.
    Tahlequah Officer Reed Felts spoke with Reinaldo Flores, who told officers he heard a knock on his door and went to answer it.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • Reach Higher an innovative approach to college

    The “Reach Higher” degree completion program is helping many Oklahoma students go back to school without drastically changing their lives.
    “This program is designed for working adults,” said Tim McElroy, program coordinator at the NSU- Muskogee campus.

    July 30, 2014

  • City attorney, others questioned chamber use of tourism tax

    Letters written in 2006 by City Attorney Park Medearis to former city councilor and Tahlequah Area Tourism Council board member Jack Spears suggest money from a hotel-motel tax could be disbursed through an agent other than the Chamber of Commerce, without voter approval.

    July 30, 2014

  • Hulbert council discusses Internet service

    During a meeting Tuesday night, members of the Hulbert Town Council discussed the possibility of Lake Region Electric Cooperative’s extending its cable and Internet service.

    July 30, 2014

  • ts-marching-MAIN.jpg Marching in step

    Tahlequah High School Orange Express Marching Band kicks off 2014 season with summer drills.

    The Tahlequah High School Orange Express Marching Band has added 30-35 freshmen to its roster this year, and drills began for the newest members last Thursday.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • studie-roberta.jpg Woman accused of stealing cash, taking it to casino

    A 35-year-old Tahlequah woman is free on bond after she allegedly took $1,200 from a man who had been jailed for old warrants.
    Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies said they spoke with Jason Jones last week after Jones was arrested by park rangers for the outstanding warrants. Jones said he came to Oklahoma to see family, and when he was arrested, he left his wallet and cash with one of his daughters.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo


Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA