Oklahoma ranked No. 1 state in reducing harmful nutrients in water
A recent comparison of Environmental Protection Agency priority nonpoint source pollutant reduction numbers from across the nation shows that Oklahoma again ranks as the No. 1 state when it comes to reducing harmful nutrients from streams and rivers. This is the second year in a row that Oklahoma has ranked number one among states in reported nonpoint source nutrient reductions and the fourth year for the state to be in the top 10, according to Kim Farber, president of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts.
“This continued improvement in addressing water quality is a testimony to the success of the dedicated work done by farmers, ranchers and other landowners in partnership with the Oklahoma Conservation Commission, local conservation districts, Environmental Protection Agency Clean Water Act 319 programs and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to address this critical issue,” Farber said. “This success shows what can happen when we work together, respect individuals’ private property rights and when the state and federal governments give landowners the financial and technical assistance they need to make changes. Locally led, voluntary conservation works.”
Water quality numbers recently reported by states to the EPA show that in 2012, Oklahoma’s Nonpoint Source Program led the nation in phosphorus reduction with more than 2,443,752 pounds of estimated phosphorus load reduced due to voluntary best management practices across the state. In addition, Oklahoma ranked first among the states in reducing nitrogen loading, reducing an estimated 2,695,211 pounds of nitrogen last year. Oklahoma also had an estimated sediment reduction of over 10,000 tons. When these numbers are reviewed in EPA’s national Nonpoint Source Database, comparison with the levels of nonpoint source pollution reduced by other states shows that Oklahoma ranks number one in the reduction of nutrients that pollute our water. This is the second year in a row where Oklahoma has led the nation in reduction of nutrients while receiving less than three percent of all federal EPA nonpoint source pollution funds.
According to Clay Pope, executive director of OACD, this reduction shows the success of locally led conservation efforts in addressing nonpoint source pollution and helps highlight why locally-led incentive based programs are critical to ongoing efforts designed to address water quality both at the state and federal level.
“By using the delivery system consisting of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission, local conservation districts and NRCS, we have been able to use EPA 319 Federal Clean Water Act dollars and Farm Bill Conservation Title funds along with state dollars to partner with landowners in ways that are starting to turn the corner on some of Oklahoma’s toughest water quality problems,” Pope said. “We’re not only controlling pollution, but we are also taking into consideration the financial situation of the local landowner. This is the same kind of approach we used to tame the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s and these numbers show it’s working again in the water quality area. Clearly we have a great model and it needs to be included in discussions surrounding water both in Oklahoma and the nation. You can have all the water in the world, but if it isn’t fit to drink, you don’t have much. These numbers prove that we are moving in the right direction in Oklahoma when it comes to water quality and we hope that our policy makers will continue to recognize what can be done when landowners and the government work cooperatively to solve these kinds of problems.”
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