Oklahoma’s priority watersheds are those determined by monitoring, and through a cooperative, statewide ranking process, to be in need of immediate attention to reduce pollution and restore beneficial uses such as swimming, fishing, or use as a drinking water supply. The Priority Watersheds Program works through Conservation Districts, directly with landowners. The program offers financial incentives to eligible applicants who agree to cost-share to install soil and water conservation best management practices on their land.
Using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 319 and State funds, the Priority Watershed Program focuses resources and efforts on areas where projects can be most effective, considering the type of impairment, the needs of a particular watershed and its residents, and the likelihood of restoring the beneficial uses. The goal of the program is to reduce the amount of nonpoint source pollutants, such as nutrients, sediment, and bacteria in runoff before they flow from land into rivers, lakes, and streams; this is done through Priority Watershed Projects, which encourage best management practices (BMPs). After BMPs are installed in priority watershed project areas, we use automated water sampling to assess water quality. We also assess stream aquatic communities by collecting and identifying stream organisms.