Implementing Agricultural Best Management Practices Improves Water Quality
Nonpoint Source Program Success Story , 2010
High levels of E. coli bacteria and low dissolved oxygen due in part to runoff from agricultural areas impaired Oklahoma’s Little Elk Creek, preventing the waterbody from attaining its primary body contact recreation and fish and wildlife propagation designated uses. In addition, the stream was impaired from the presence of oil and grease, which prevented it from attaining its aesthetics designated use. In response, Oklahoma added a 16-mile-long segment of Little Elk Creek to the state’s 2002 Clean Water Act (CWA) section 303(d) list of impaired waters. Implementing best management practices (BMPs) that promoted conservation tillage and proper nutrient management led to decreased bacteria and nutrient levels in the creek. As a result, a segment of Little Elk Creek was removed from Oklahoma’s 2008 CWA section 303(d) list for E. coli and dissolved oxygen. The creek was also delisted for oil and grease. The creek now partially attains its primary body contact recreation designated use and fully attains its fish and wildlife propagation and aesthetics uses.