OACD praises EPA decision to fund additional water quality efforts

The recent decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide nearly $1 million in additional funds for water quality work in Oklahoma through voluntary, locally-led conservation efforts is a welcome one, according to Joe Parker, president of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts (OACD).  Parker said the recent decision by EPA shows recognition of the water quality work going on in Oklahoma.

The Illinois River

“We are very happy with this recent development in our ongoing dialogue with EPA,” Parker said. “This new injection of funding for our water quality efforts in Oklahoma recognizes the outstanding work that is taking place on the ground in our state to address nonpoint source pollution through voluntary conservation practices. Too often it seems that EPA and production agriculture are at odds with one another, but this new money recognizes the hard work Oklahoma agriculture producers and other landowners are doing to protect our water. It’s nice to have a chance to find agreement on this issue that is so important to us all.”

The action singled out by Parker for praise was the redirecting of nearly $1 million in EPA clean water act section 319 funds (319) to Oklahoma for voluntary, cooperative conservation work in the North Canadian River/Oklahoma River Watershed and the Illinois River Watershed. These funds will go to supplement the ongoing effort by local conservation districts, the Oklahoma Conservation Commission and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to work with agricultural producers and other landowners to establish best management practices to control non-point source pollution in water through voluntary, locally-led means. These programs will continue the work already started in these watersheds to address non-point source pollution; work that in some cases has resulted in reductions of nutrients as high as 60 percent to 70 percent in certain areas and led to the delisting of several Oklahoma stream segments from the EPA list of streams that are impaired for nutrients, bacteria and sediment.  

“Oklahoma has been a leader in addressing non-point source pollution for a several years now, but we have a long way to go and many challenges we have to address,” Parker said.  “It’s heartening to see the EPA recognize the strides we are making in Oklahoma and these new funds will definitely help this effort to continue.”