Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Norman Looks for Pollution Solution

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Norman Looks for Pollution Solution

Article excerpt

NORMAN - Farmers, lawn care companies and real estate developers may soon have to change the way they do business in Norman. The city is developing a water cleanup plan to reduce pollution draining into Lake Thunderbird that it will enforce by January 2016.

It's too early to know exactly how much the pollution plan will affect businesses, said Olsson Associates Certified Floodplain Manager Reza Khakpour, a consultant preparing the plan. But city officials should remain flexible in their approach to reducing runoff from construction sites, agricultural land and residential lawns, he said.

Lake Thunderbird is so polluted it doesn't meet national standards to support wildlife, recreation and public water supplies. Much of the pollution comes from nitrogen and phosphorus that runs off lawns, as well as from red, silty clay that erodes off construction sites and unstable stream banks.

Norman, Oklahoma City and Moore officials must reduce pollution that runs into creeks that flow into the Lake Thunderbird reservoir. Each city must submit those plans to the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality by November. Khakpour on Monday presented Olsson's draft plan to about 25 people. He is seeking public input on Norman's plan.

One way to reduce runoff is to work with farmers and ranchers in the area. Encouraging ranchers to fence off streams can keep cattle manure out of the water and can minimize erosion. Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association Executive Vice President Michael Kelsey said some ranchers already use fences to maintain stream banks.

The Oklahoma Conservation Commission works with ranchers in rural areas to fence off streams, through a program paid for by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service. But that federal money is dwindling and isn't traditionally used in urban areas like Norman, said Conservation Commission Environmental Projects Coordinator Judith Wilkins.

Kelsey said the stream bank stabilization program may be effective for some parts of the state but not others. …

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