There are many reasons why a person might be interested in water quality: fishing, swimming, boating, wading, kayaking, canoeing, water skiing, drinking water, and just enjoying a pleasant view. These are but a few of the many reasons we Oklahomans treasure our aquatic natural resources. How a lake or stream is used is so important that the EPA and states have categorized water quality standards to protect types of uses. These “Beneficial Uses” are defined in the Oklahoma Water Quality Standards. Each beneficial use has its own standards of protection. For example, for fisheries protection (called the Fish and Wildlife Propagation beneficial use) there are certain numerical standards that must be maintained. There are also narrative criteria that establish a general standard of protection goal.
There are also waterbodies in Oklahoma that deserve a higher level of protection. These include Outstanding Resource Waters (ORW) (e.g., all of the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers), High Quality Waters (HQW), specially designated waterbodies listed in Appendix B of the Oklahoma Water Quality Standards, Sensitive Water Supplies (SWS), and Culturally Significant Waters (CSW). For a more thorough discussion of the state’s water quality standards, visit the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) website.
The State of Oklahoma is required to submit a bi-annual report to Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the condition of Oklahoma’s streams and lakes. This report, called the “Oklahoma Integrated Water Quality Assessment Report”, lists the water quality status for all waterbodies in Oklahoma, including impairment status. This report, and much other water quality information, can be found at the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) website. The ODEQ is the water quality regulatory and permitting authority for Oklahoma.
The Federal and State environmental agencies listed on this website, along with many regional and local entities, can help you locate water quality information for your stream or lake.
For more information, contact:
Environmental Planning Manager