DEQ’s full proposal is still in the comment period, and public comments will be taken through Aug. 1. After that, the TMDL model goes to the Environmental Protection Agency for final approval. Once approved, the plan will be incorporated as a water quality management plan.
All of the cities permitted for stormwater release in the Thunderbird watershed will have to comply. That means Moore and Oklahoma City will have to follow the plan, even though Thunderbird does not provide those municipalities with drinking water.
It is unclear how long the EPA approval is likely to take, so clearer waters for Lake Thunderbird could be way down the road. In the meantime, Norman has already taken steps to move toward cleaner waters by implementing a water quality protection zone and a fertilizer ordinance that limits the use of phosphorous.
Public education will be key as any plan is implemented. When changes result in progress, for a time, the lake may appear to get worse, Derichsweiler warned. When the sediment is reduced and the water becomes more clear, algae will increase in growth for a couple of years.
If pollutant nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen are reduced, that algae will slowly decrease. In addition to limiting the pollution sources of nutrients, cutting down on the sediment will reduce algae because sediment carries phosphorus into the water, Derichsweiler said. Reducing the sediment also increases the oxygen content of the lake.
Public comments can be mailed to Dr. Karen Miles, Water Quality Division, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, P.O. Box 1677, Oklahoma City, OK 73101-1677, or email Karen.Miles@deq.ok.gov.
For more information, visit the project website, deq.state.ok.us/wqdnew/tmdl/thunderbird/index.html.
A PowerPoint presentations will be on the website soon.
Joy Hampton 366-3539