On the Mountain Fork River, Environmental Protection Equals Economic Development

Eddie Brister, owner of the Beaver's Bend Fly Shop on the southern section of the Mountain Fork River.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Eddie Brister, owner of the Beaver's Bend Fly Shop on the southern section of the Mountain Fork River.

This is the final part of StateImpact Oklahoma’s series on the history of Oklahoma’s scenic rivers and the environmental threats they face. Part three is available here.

Eddie Brister knows how the stream warms and cools, and where the current rushes and eddies. He knows every pebble in the river, and he can spot a trout without even dipping his waders in the water.

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“Grand River Dam Authority Signs Contract for More Wind Generation in Oklahoma”

The GRDA has agreed to buy 100 megawatts from Apex Clean Energy’s Kay County wind project, which is expected to come online next year. The wind farm “is expected to generate about $53 million in local tax revenue and $48 million in local landowner payments during its lifetime,” The Oklahoman’s Paul Monies repors.

GRDA directors approved a 20-year contract with Apex Clean Energy Inc. for electricity from the project near Newkirk and Peckham. Kansas utility Westar Energy Inc. will take the other 200 megawatts from the 300-megawatt project. The wind farm is expected to be operational some time in 2015. Dan Sullivan, GRDA’s CEO and director of investments, said additional wind generation is a key part of the authority’s long-term generation planning. GRDA estimated the contract would save its customers about $50 million over the project’s lifetime.

Read more at: newsok.com

“Garber-Wellington Aquifer Being Depleted”

How much water is too much to withdraw from the Garber-Wellington Aquifer, which underlies central Oklahoma? That’s the question going forward, now that a study of the aquifer is finished. But one thing seems clear: the status quo is not sustainable.

A large, Central Oklahoma aquifer will be 50 percent depleted as early as 2049 if usage continues at the current rates, an updated study presented Tuesday to the Oklahoma Water Resources Board shows. The study on the Garber-Wellington aquifer, which lies beneath much of central Oklahoma, including Oklahoma City, Moore, Norman, Shawnee and other cities, examined the rates of water usage from 1987 through 2009.

Read more at: kgou.org

Source Eludes Investigators as Another Fish-Kill is Reported on Salt Fork River

A late-August fish-kill is the second die-off reported in the span of a month on the Salt Fork River in north-central Oklahoma.

Authorities were investigating the most recent fish-kill, reported on Aug. 25, as an analysis on water samples taken during the July fish-kill was returned from the state laboratory. The July samples showed elevated levels of aluminium, iron and manganese, says Skylar McElhaney, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality. Continue Reading

Duncan Eyes More Severe Water Restrictions Despite Weakening Drought


J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

The water situation for the city of Duncan continues to deteriorate. Despite improving drought conditions in the area, portions of Stephens County — where Duncan is located — are still in the severe or exceptional drought categories.

So, at a meeting Tuesday, the Duncan City Council voted to move from the Stage 3 rationing the city has been under since March 2013 — which limits outdoor watering to the early morning hours twice a week — to Stage 4, but delayed implementation until October.

From The Duncan Banner‘s Steve Olafson:

The delay is designed to give residents plenty of time to get used to the idea of stricter water rationing when the city moves to the Stage 4 level of water conservation.

But the council voted to make Stage 4 rationing less harsh than it otherwise would be.

Under the city’s revamped conservation law, residents will be able to water lawns and do other outdoor chores such as wash cars or hose down driveways one day each week during Stage 4 rationing.

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Boom and Gloom: Tourism and Industry Collide Along Oklahoma’s Scenic Rivers

Debbie Doss picks up garbage and loose clothing left behind by careless tourists along Lee Creek.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Debbie Doss picks up garbage and loose clothing left behind by careless tourists along Lee Creek.

This is part three of StateImpact Oklahoma’s four-part series on the history of Oklahoma’s scenic rivers and the environmental threats they face. Part two is available here.

A narrow rock wall holds back all but a couple of tiny waterfalls that sneak through cracks and flow into Lee Creek. This natural dam is so unique a nearby town in northwest Arkansas was named for it.

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“Texas Proposes Tougher Rules on Wells After Quakes”

The oil and gas regulator in Texas is proposing “new rules that would require would-be operators to submit geological information in their permit applications and give the state the authority to take away permits when wells can be linked to earthquakes — a notable gesture by an agency run in large part by industry executives,” the Associated Press’ Emily Schmall reports.

The move comes as states grapple with how to respond to growing public anxieties over the risks from hydraulic fracturing — which involves blasting water, sand and chemicals deep into underground rock formations to free oil and gas — and the disposal of vast amounts of wastewater, far more than traditional drilling methods. The water is pumped into so-called injection wells, which send the waste thousands of feet underground.

Read more at: kxan.com

“Man-Made Earthquakes Are Proliferating, but We Won’t Admit Fault”

Interesting Newsweek piece Oklahoma’s earthquake swarm: “Humans have always had trouble understanding those aspects of existence that are monumental in scope. For most of our history, all larger-than-life natural phenomena have required the explanatory assistance of other equally larger-than-life forces.”

As seismologists scramble to understand these earthquakes, convincing the public—and the energy industry—that humans may be behind them has been nearly impossible. Hough brings up climate change as a comparison. Despite the fact that “climate change is to the point [where] there’s no major dissent in the scientific community,” many people still don’t believe it’s real. “There’s a lot more uncertainty with earthquakes,” Hough says, and “we’re trying to communicate with imperfect knowledge.”

Read more at: www.newsweek.com

Residents File Class-Action Lawsuit to Block Wind Turbines Near Kingfisher

Seven landowners filed a class-action lawsuit this week to prevent wind turbines from being built near their homes in Canadian and Kingfisher counties.

In the complaint, which is embedded above, the landowners claim that planned wind farm projects controlled by Virginia-based Apex Clean Energy would create a nuisance, devalue their property and adversely affect their health. Continue Reading

“Questions Remain at Epicenter of Quake Trend”

NewsOK published an in-depth package on Oklahoma’s earthquake swarm, including the science and skepticism on possible links to oil and gas activity.

Oklahoma is a seismically active state crisscrossed with thousands of natural fault lines. But seismic activity has spiked over the past five years, leading scientists, regulators, oil and natural gas industry representatives and the general public to question what is different today — if anything — and what could be causing the rumblings. Some researchers have attributed the swarm to natural causes. Others have pointed largely to the oil and natural gas industry, specifically at its practice of disposing of produced water by pumping it deep below ground. Others say the unusual swarm likely is a combination of factors.

Read more at: newsok.com

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