Tahlequah Daily Press

November 18, 2013

EPA on target to complete watershed project

Staff Writer

WEST SILOAM SPRINGS — The Environmental Protection Agency is on target to complete its Illinois River Watershed modeling effort by December 2014.

The EPA hosted a water quality review meeting Thursday at the Cherokee Casino in West Siloam Springs to bring stakeholders in the watershed up-to-date on its ongoing study of the Total Maximum Daily Load of nutrients in the river. The current TMDL is .037 milligrams per liter.

Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission Administrator Ed Fite attended the meeting, and said EPA representatives presented a more concise format for the gathering.

“They made the meeting much shorter and not as technical, and presented specifically what the TMDL is about, breaking down a number of the terms for the stakeholders who attended,” said Fite. “They did a really good job explaining calibration and other terms.”

Fite said they also presented firm dates for completion. Stakeholders attending past meetings were often frustrated at the pace of the study.

“By December 2014 there will be a draft TMDL presented,” said Fite.

“We’re one year away from concluding their work. They are also 100 percent complete on a couple of other milestones for the study, and 70 percent complete on the watershed and sedimentation portion of the study. They are moving at a much better pace.”

Additionally, Oklahoma and Arkansas are conducting a stressor test to determine the appropriate TMDL level for the watershed. The panel is comprised of six water-quality experts, three from Oklahoma and three from Arkansas. While the study is ongoing, the .037 mpl remains in place..