, Muskogee, OK

March 6, 2013

Agreement helps keep water clean

— We all need clean water.

We all want good neighbors.

Just as fences make good neighbors, clear agreements make good neighbors.

Oklahoma and Arkansas have signed such an agreement.

The two have tussled over water quality for decades. The states have reached an agreement that should keep the two states good neighbors, at least when it comes to water quality.

The agreement extends commitments to Oklahoma’s numeric phosphorus standards for its scenic rivers.

Excess phosphorus and nitrogen degrade streams and rivers by promoting excess algae and other plant growth. The growth and its decay reduces dissolved oxygen and water clarity.

The 0.037 mg/L standard adopted in 2003 could have been challenged in a lawsuit.

 Proponents of the agreement said it avoids that risk.

The agreement opens the door to a new study to examine phosphorus loading of the Illinois River. Both states have agreed to be bound by the study’s findings. The current limits will remain while the study is completed.

When neighbors establish and respect boundaries and limits, they are being good neighbors.

As Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said in a media release:  “Generations of Oklahomans have enjoyed the Illinois River for hunting, fishing, camping and floating, and their safety and enjoyment of the river is paramount.”

Good neighbors don’t send dirty water downstream. They keep it clean. This agreement should help.