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A State Perspective on Local, Regional & National Monitoring: Oklahoma as a Case Study

Monty Porter

Oklahoma Water Resources Board, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

With 12 distinctive eco-regions, Oklahoma has widely divergent geology, climatology, biology, and water quality from east to west and north to south. Not unlike other rural states, Oklahoma has also developed a variety of land uses, each of which have potential deleterious impact on the state’s waters. As a result, state policymakers and environmental agencies have placed a premium on developing a comprehensive legal framework and monitoring strategy to protect Oklahoma’s waters. The what, where, and how of monitoring is outlined in administrative rule related to the Oklahoma Water Quality Standards and Use Support Assessment Protocols as well as in guidance documents including the Oklahoma Continuing Planning Process and The Oklahoma Surface Water Monitoring Strategy. In addition, the state has several comprehensive monitoring programs and continues to monitor for local areas of concern. Core water quality indicators for Oklahoma fall into five general categories—aquatic life, habitat, nutrients, salinity, and human health. These indicators drive both standards and programmatic development.

Like most states, fitting Oklahoma’s monitoring strategy into the broader regional/national context is a complicated process. The state has developed a long-range strategy that meets its needs. Protocols, standards, and programs have been formulated that uniquely approach Oklahoma’s diverse challenges. However, drawing upon outside resources provides additional perspective and commonality to the process. Although the application of results is limited, national studies can build regional and state capacity by broadening the pool of resources that may be useful, for example, in standard development, determining reference condition, and refining protocols.

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