Tahlequah Daily Press

May 9, 2013

EPA responds to concerns of STIR group

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Members of Save The Illinois River learned Wednesday the Environmental Protection Agency Region 6 is committed to continuing its study and development of the Total Maximum Daily Load of nutrients in the Illinois River Watershed.

Last month, STIR provided the Daily Press with copies of six letters from various Arkansas poultry producers and chambers of commerce, asking the EPA to pause its work on developing the TMDL, as Oklahoma and Arkansas had agreed to conduct its own stressor test response within the watershed.

STIR also asked the EPA to disregard the letters requesting the delay, saying the TMDL is of vital importance to clean water in the area.

Quang Nguyen, a core project team member for EPA Region 6, wrote to STIR member Ed Brocksmith, saying they will continue their work.

“The quality of water in the Illinois River, its tributaries and the waterbodies into which they flow remains an important concern to Arkansas, Oklahoma, tribes, and the EPA,” wrote Nguyen. “The EPA believes that continuing our current work in the Illinois basin is vital to improving water quality in the Illinois River and its upstream tributaries in northwest Arkansas.”

The EPA has invested about two years in research and development of the TMDL.

“Given the time and resources already required to achieve the current state of our model’s development, we also believe completion of the modeling efforts and development of TMDL is likely to be a lengthy process,” wrote Nguyen.

“Therefore, the EPA believes it is important to continue moving forward with its ongoing modeling and TMDL work.”