Of all the environmental issues facing Oklahomans, water quality is by far the most serious and, sadly, the most troubling. The National Academy of Sciences tracked violations of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act over the past 35 years and identified Oklahoma as a worst offender. From the injection of billions of gallons of fracking waste under our state, to the discharge of coal ash in our waterways, to the runoff of tons and tons of chicken waste into our state’s most pristine streams, Oklahoma water is in big trouble.
How do we know water pollution is a problem?
Fortunately for America, the study and science of water quality is alive and well. The United States government via the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) routinely assesses all of the water in the United States.
Why should water pollution matter to me in Oklahoma?
The sad truth is pretty heart-breaking; most Oklahoma water is already polluted– you can look up the water in your own backyard and read about its water quality here. And it is even more troubling when you look at drinking water contamination in our state.
Is there anything I can do about this situation? How can I make a difference?
One of the best things you can do is engage locally with like-minded concerned citizens. In eastern Oklahoma, for example, Save the Illinois River (STIR) is currently working to push back against chicken pollution. And there are numerous local water-focused organizations dedicated to protecting local waters– consider contacting them and pitching in! In southeastern Oklahoma: Oklahomans for Responsible Water Policy ; in south-central Oklahoma: Citizens for the Protection of the Arbuckle Simpson Aquifer.
And as simple as it sounds, simply talking about the problem and sharing what you learn with friends, family and coworkers goes a long way towards fixing the problem. Posting news and facts about Oklahoma water pollution on social media helps raise awareness and build public concern.
If you have a water concern that you do not believe is being addressed, email Johnson Bridgwater, director of the Oklahoma Sierra Club: firstname.lastname@example.org