Oklahoma and Arkansas state agencies on Wednesday announced the completion of a memorandum of agreement committing both states to future collaboration in addressing water quality concerns related to the Illinois River focused on science-based regulation and permitting.
The agreement—signed by Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment Michael Teague, Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), and the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission (ANRC) —charts a path forward on science-based regulatory actions and permitting, and that jointly commits the parties to collaborative efforts in developing a watershed improvement plan. The parties also commit to coordinate in making data and other information about water quality improvements more readily available.
“Governor Asa Hutchinson and I have worked together on many issues, and I’m proud our agencies have taken on this challenge and developed such a collaborative solution,” said Governor Fallin. “Recognizing the value of our water resources, we should all be working together to improve the beauty and quality of the Illinois River.”
“For the past several months, the ADEQ and the ANRC have worked closely with their counterparts in Oklahoma to develop an innovative, state-based approach to address challenges in the Illinois River Watershed,” Governor Hutchinson said. “I applaud the efforts on both sides, and I believe this agreement will allow us to leverage our collective resources to greatly improve the water quality in the Illinois River for future generations.”
“We appreciate the cooperation between Oklahoma and Arkansas as well as support from the Cherokee Nation, industry, communities, and environmental advocacy groups that make this agreement even better, Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment Michael Teague said. “The agreement supports growth for both states through working groups and a steering committee to ensure that cooperation continues and water quality improves.”
“During the past few years, we have built a strong working relationship with our peers in Oklahoma. This agreement creates a lasting framework to facilitate cooperation to advance continuous improvements and protections of scenic waterways,” ADEQ Director Becky W. Keogh said. “This recognizes a positive outlook for growth and increased agricultural development in Arkansas and Oklahoma.”
“It is important for us to recognize the progress that has been made in the Illinois River Watershed and to praise all who have taken part in that progress,” said ANRC Executive Director Bruce Holland.
“It is also important to acknowledge the work of the study group and their findings to set the stage for progress yet to come. This agreement is necessary and appropriate and makes it clear to all that we are committed to many more years of protecting and improving the water quality in the Illinois River Watershed.”