Water Quality in Northeast Oklahoma


The Oklahoma Water Quality Standards (WQS) assign numerical and narrative criteria to protect the “Beneficial Uses” assigned to all Waters of the State. Each of the “Beneficial Use” categories has its own standards for protection. There are also high-quality waters in Northeast Oklahoma, such as Oklahoma Scenic Rivers, that deserve a higher level of protection than just for Beneficial Uses. These special high-quality waters are protected by the “anti-degradation” rules in the water quality standards. For a more thorough discussion of the state’s water quality standards, visit the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) website.

There are many Oklahoma streams and lakes that have been designated as impaired (that is, not meeting one or more of their Beneficial Uses). The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issues a biennial “Integrated Water Quality Assessment Report” to EPA. One part of the report is the 303(d) List of impaired waterbodies. 

Many waterbodies that remain on the 303(d) List will eventually have a special type of pollutant load study called a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). The TMDL defines all point source loads (such as wastewater treatment plants) and all non-point source loads (such as agricultural activities) to determine the maximum amount of pollutant loads that can be added from all sources and still protect water quality.  

Stormwater permittees are considered point sources in a TMDL and are included in the overall pollutant load calculations. In some cases, a Watershed Plan is prepared in lieu of a TMDL. Stormwater permittees must abide by the requirements in either document. The ODEQ Water Quality Division website provides a great deal of information about the state’s water quality and regulatory programs.

Federal and State environmental agencies, along with regional and local entities, can help you locate water quality information for your stream or lake. Contact INCOG at 918.579.9451 if you need assistance with your search.  Visit the OWRB’s Interactive Maps and GIS Data website and ODEQ’s Oklahoma DEQ GIS Maps and Data website to access a wide variety of water quality data. The Water Quality Division of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission (OCC) also has an interactive map viewer to access OCC’s stream monitoring data.