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Water: Nonpoint Source Success Stories

Oklahoma (Section 319I - 1994)

Oklahoma's priority is developing a strong riparian policy that ties in with its nonpoint source program. In some cases, improvements in riparian zones will transfer into improvements in stream quality. In focusing more on urban areas, Oklahoma is trying to educate urban dwellers about the impacts of their actions on water quality.

BMPs Reduce Nutrients in Battle Branch Watershed

With more than 24,200 tons of poultry and dairy waste to be disposed of yearly, it was no wonder that the Cherokee Hills Resource Conservation District believed that improper waste management, especially poultry litter, was contributing to nutrient loading in the Battle Branch watershed. The Battle Branch/Flint Creek watershed, located in Delaware County, contains approximately 36,000 acres. A variety of nutrient pollution sources have been documented, including inadequate rural wastewater systems or disposal of other domestic refuse, inadequate techniques for disposing of dead poultry or other animals, livestock holding areas and lagoons from dairy operations, and excessive application of poultry litter and other animal wastes to agricultural pasture lands. Oklahoma used a $30,000 cooperative agreement with SCS, ASCS, local landowners, and others and funded with an EPA grant (FY 1988 205[j][5]/ 319[h]) to conduct a demonstration project in the Battle Branch watershed.

The project was divided into four major components:

  • Installing structural or vegetative BMPs suited to landowner cost-sharing;
  • Providing technical and/or financial assistance to landowners for developing and adopting animal waste plans;
  • Conducting regular monitoring to document the effectiveness of BMPs in improving water quality; and
  • Using information about effective BMPs from the Battle Branch project in other small watershed units within the Illinois River Basin.

The project strives to manage nutrient sources on-site by installing appropriate BMPs. BMPs that use proper land application techniques and waste handling methods were developed to reduce the amount of nutrients entering Battle Branch and its tributaries. BMPs include conservation plans, waste management plans, rural wastewater systems, poultry composters, riparian tree planting, and waste storage structures. As of FY 1993, some 84 percent of landowners in the watershed are - participating in the project.

Use of BMPs have significantly reduced nutrient concentrations. Nitrate levels during runoff have decreased as much as 72 percent and total phosphorus levels as much as 35 percent. If similar reductions were made in all creeks of the Illinois River Basin, a - significant reduction in nutrient loading would occur in the Illinois River.

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