Legislation seeks to make Oklahoma's Honey Creek, a scenic river - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

Legislation seeks to make Oklahoma's Honey Creek, a scenic river

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TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ A state senator wants to raise standards on a Grand Lake tributary that receives wastewater from a Missouri poultry plant, even if it ruffles feathers across the state line.

Simmons Foods already is lobbying against the proposal to start the process of designating Honey Creek a state scenic river, said Sen. Kevin Easley, D-Broken Arrow.

That designation could require tighter standards for phosphorous, which promotes the growth of water-degrading algae.

``Missouri may not like that, and that's OK,'' Easley said. ``It's better to fight than it is to do nothing. My goal is to get serious.''

Simmons Foods' processing plant discharges 1.5 million gallons of wastewater a day into the Cave Springs Branch of Honey Creek. The company has spent more than $10 million upgrading its wastewater system since 1996, but Easley isn't impressed.

``They are trying to say that they have spent millions on failed systems,'' he said. ``I'm saying that they need to spend millions to get ones that work.''

Oklahoma scenic rivers, under a standard awaiting federal approval, must meet a 0.037 parts per million phosphorus level.

Monitoring by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board found that from December 1998 to September 2001, phosphorous levels on Honey Creek ranged from 0.4 parts per million to less than 0.04 parts per million.

The new phosphorous standard already has rankled Arkansas regulators and that state's poultry industry when applied to rivers that cross the state line into Oklahoma.

The Illinois River receives wastewater from several Oklahoma and Arkansas communities, as well as poultry operations within its watershed. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is attempting to restart negotiations between the two states after talks stalled last fall.

Easley tried last year to get Honey Creek designated as a scenic river, but then-Gov. Frank Keating vetoed the legislation. Gov. Brad Henry, a Democrat, voted for Easley's bill as a state senator.

``Now that we have got a governor who's going to do more than talk about the environment, I think we might have a good chance,'' Easley said.
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