Sewage problems to curtail some Oklahoma state park services

Monday, June 24th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Services at popular state parks in Oklahoma are scheduled to be reduced on July 10 to comply with an order from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, officials said Monday.

The DEQ order cites leaking or inadequate sewer lagoons at Sequoyah State Park, Tenkiller State Park and Lake Texoma State Park.

It was to have taken effect on July 1, but an extension was granted on Monday so officials of the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation could assess the problems.

Under the order, lodge and cabins would be closed at Western Hills Guest Ranch located within Sequoyah State Park near Wagoner. Services would be reduced at the park's campgrounds. The park would still be open for day-use, but all permanent restroom facilities would be closed. Chemical toilets would be placed at Sequoyah's campgrounds, golf course, boat ramps and marina for public use.

The environmental order would force the closure of the swimming pool at Tenkiller State Park. Campgrounds at Tenkiller State Park and Lake Texoma State Park also would have reduced services.

The tourism agency plans to hire an environmental engineer to review the order and the conditions of the properties in question. In addition, the department will seek advice from the attorney general.

``We want to exhaust every option possible to protect our employees' jobs and preserve the recreational opportunities for our guests,'' Jayroe said.

She said the agency has been working with the DEQ on sewage treatment problems since 1996 and repeatedly has asked the Oklahoma Legislature for emergency funding to repair these waste water treatment facilities.

``The Legislature provided supplemental funding for the engineering design work for the environmental problems during the 2000 legislative session, however, funding was not made available to remediate the problems,'' Jayroe said.

``This is a difficult time for us. We must be sensitive to the needs of our employees affected by this action but also to the welfare of our park visitors and to the protection of our environmental resources.''