A clean environment concerns everyone.
The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality is seeking public comment on its report on bacteria in local waterways.
The report states several area rivers and waterways have been contaminated with human and animal feces.
The Bacteria and Turbidity Total Maximum Daily Loads report indicates the Arkansas River near Muskogee and Haskell; Coody Creek in Muskogee; Verdigris River near Wagoner; and the Neosho River below Fort Gibson Lake all tested positive for too much enterococci bacteria.
Coody Creek also is shown as having too much E. coli bacteria.
The purpose of the TMDL report is to determine how much bacteria levels must be reduced to bring the waterways in question back to water quality standards set by the state, “which is the first step toward restoring water quality and protecting public health,” said Skylar McElhaney, ODEQ spokeswoman.
The request for comment is not meant to alarm the public. These waterways have not been closed to the public.
Now is the time to help ODEQ solve the problem before it becomes a major public safety concern.
You can help
Read the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality’s report on bacteria in local waterways here: www.deq.state.ok.us/WQDnew/tmdl/index.html.
Send comments on the report to Water.Comments@deq.ok.gov or Watershed Planning Water Quality Division, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, P.O. Box 1677, Oklahoma City, OK 73101-1677. The public comment period is open until Sept. 17.