Recreationalists who visit the Illinois River next year will be relieved to find portable toilets available along the scenic stream.
The Oklahoma Conservation Commission has deemed portable toilets an essential tool to ensure that visitors have a minimal impact on water quality within the watershed. The placement of portable toilets is even more critical along the Illinois River and Lake Tenkiller, which attract thousands of visitors each summer.
This past summer, eight toilets were placed along the Illinois River and maintained by a private contractor at a cost of about $8,000. But when a shortage of state funds threatened to curtail the project, Save the Illinois River began raising funds.
“The portable toilet project perfectly fits STIR’s mission to protect and preserve the Illinois River and Tenkiller Lake,” STIR President Denise Deason-Toyne said. “It’s gratifying to see these diverse entities pull together to protect one of Oklahoma’s most valuable natural resources.”
Deason-Toyne said donors pledged more than $10,000 to the portable toilet project. Those donations included pledges of $2,000 each from STIR, the Cherokee Nation and Reasor’s. A silent auction at STIR’s annual membership meeting and contributions from “STIR Angels” pushed the total raised past the organization’s goal.
Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission Administrator Ed Fite said the funding secured by STIR members will allow the agency “to contract for more toilets at more locations than were available this float season.”
“OSRC maintenance of these facilities ensures that human waste is captured at these facilities and then sent to a ... permitted waste treatment facility for processing,” Fite said.
Elevated levels of phosphorus and other nutrients such as nitrogen promote vegetative growth in water bodies. That growth depletes dissolved oxygen levels, reduces water quality and harms aquatic life.
Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn about Save the Illinois River and its efforts to protect the Illinois River watershed, visit www.illinoisriver.org.