Save the Illinois River, Inc.
24369 E 757 Rd.
Tahlequah, OK 74464-1949
(918) 284-9440

Phosphorus Continues to Exceed Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Limit in 2019 Report

Save the Illinois River | Environment | March 05, 2020

The 2019 meeting of the Arkansas-Oklahoma Arkansas River Compact Commission was held Sept. 26, 2019 at West Siloam Springs, Oklahoma.  Data presented at the meeting shows that total phosphorus exceeds Oklahoma's water quality standard for designated scenic Rivers.  That standard is 0.037 mg/L total phosphorus.

Oklahoma's phosphorus limit was adopted in 2002 but has not been enforced despite repeated calls by Save the Illinois River (STIR) and other conservation organizations to begin enforcement.

Sewage treatment plant phosphorus limits in Oklahoma and Arkansas have been on hold for ten years waiting on a pollution study by the U.S. EPA or the states of Arkansas and Oklahoma.  The multi-million-dollar EPA study now sits on shelves attracting dust and the states have no plans for completing the study.

Click on the links below to see the 2019 data.

Phosphorus continues to exceed Oklahoma's Scenic Rivers Limit of .037 mg/L according to the 2019 report to the Arkansas-Oklahoma Arkansas River Compact Commission*

Phosphorus Loading of Oklahoma Scenic Rivers according to the 2019 report to the Arkansas-Oklahoma Arkansas River Compact Commission**

Phosphorus history of 5-year rolling averages at Watts, OK and Tahlequah, OK

*Phosphorus exceeds Oklahoma's .037 limit by 91-percent in the Illinois River at Watts, OK near the Oklahoma-Arkansas border and 81-percent at Tahlequah downstream according to data for 2013-2018.


**Phosphorus loading at Tahlequah above Lake Tenkiller is more than 45,000 kilograms or 49.5 tons per year, the equivalent of 33 dump truck loads of phosphorus entering Tenkiller yearly.

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Photo of Illinois River by Kimberly Baker