Oklahoma and Arkansas work on updated plan for Illinois River watershed

Report to the Arkansas-Oklahoma Arkansas River Compact Commission | Save  The Illinois River, Inc. | Oklahoma

Oklahoma and Arkansas officials joined efforts to update a watershed-based management plan for the Illinois  River Watershed.

The river runs through the two states and the Oklahoma Conservation Commission and the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Division are working together on the project. They plan a series of public meetings to discuss the management plan. The first will be held Oct. 11 in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.

The Illinois River and its tributaries have a variety of uses set forth by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, including recreation, aquatic life, drinking water supply, and agricultural and industrial water supply. The goal of this watershed-based plan is to protect and improve water quality in the watershed by addressing non-regulatory issues through voluntary activities or practices.

This plan will focus on reducing impacts of nonpoint source pollution (pollution which results when rainfall carries pollutants into rivers, streams, wetlands and lakes) to the Illinois River and its tributaries and ultimately downstream to Lake Tenkiller and the Arkansas River.

“The OCC and the NRD are working collaboratively to host a series of stakeholder meetings that will guide the update of the Illinois River Watershed management plan for the next decade,” said Shanon Phillips, OCC Water Quality Division Director.

“The two states’ holistic approach to update the plan in unison will better align nonpoint source needs across the entire watershed. The current watershed plan has led to notable water quality  improvements on both sides of the state line from which a collaborative update can build upon.”

Illinois River Tahlequah, Oklahoma - YouTube

The meeting is open to the public and will provide an overview of the watershed management planning process. Stakeholders will discuss water quality issues, conservation practices, the current state of the watershed, and the next steps in the development of the management plan.

The meeting is set for October 11 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and will be held at the First Baptist Church located at 2000 Dawn Hill Rd., Siloam Springs, Arkansas, 72761.