Tahlequah Daily Press

November 14, 2013

Water quality review meeting set for tonight

From Staff reports

TAHLEQUAH — The Environmental Protection Agency is hosting a water quality review meeting tonight, and Save The Illinois River Inc. members are encouraging those concerned about the Illinois River and Lake Tenkiller to attend.

The event, slated for 6 p.m., at the Cherokee Casino in West Siloam Springs, is a public hearing to bring area residents up to date on the Total Maximum Daily Load of nutrients allowable in the watershed. The current TMDL is .037 milligrams per liter.

STIR member Kathy Tibbits is concerned that Arkansas interests, which have favored a higher TMDL. will be well-represented. She hopes those who would like to see the TMDL lowered will attend and will make their concerns known.

Right now, water quality officials from both Oklahoma and Arkansas are conducting a stressor test, to determine the appropriate TMDL level for the watershed. While the study is ongoing, the .037 mpl remains in place, but could be affected if the EPA deems a change is necessary.

“We need to politely press toward the adoption of the .037 standard,” wrote Tibbits on a STIR Facebook post. “There’s sort of a moving target here; the river’s smaller, the further upstream toward its headwaters. So, .037 in its feeder intermittent streams would be a disaster, and .037 down in the full run of the river is just right. The key to winning is public support.”

The event will include presentations on the EPA’s ongoing Illinois River Watershed Modeling effort and a question-and-answer session.