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This summer the Poteau Valley Improvement Authority (PVIA) will test a new way to improve the clarity and health of the water in Lake Wister, begin the construction of a sophisticated computer model of how the lake works, and test water quality on 20 small streams around the county that eventually deliver their water to the lake.

Lake Wister, best known for its good crappie and catfishing, summer camping, and water skiing, is also the source of drinking water for most of LeFlore County, as well as parts of Latimer and Haskell counties. PVIA has been treating water from Lake Wister and providing it to towns and rural water districts since 1969. The intervening years have unfortunately seen water quality in the lake decline significantly.

Turning lake water into clean, safe drinking water has become more difficult and expensive.

Several years ago PVIA began a new initiative to both test innovative ways to improve water quality and to better understand the problems the lake faces. In partnership with the Choctaw Nation, the City of Poteau, AES Shady Point, and the US Geological Survey, PVIA has collected four years of new information on both the water flowing into the lake and on the lake itself.

Now they are ready to begin putting that new data to use. In August, PVIA plans to add alum, a chemical they use every day to treat water in the plant, directly to the lake in Quarry Island Cove. Through this innovative project, which has never been done on this scale in Oklahoma, PVIA hopes to reduce the level of harmful blue-green algae in the water of the cove. Some important algae byproducts are difficult to remove in the plant itself, so if this project is successful, it could lead the way to keeping water treatment costs down, as well as maintaining high safe drinking water standards.

This summer will also see scientists from the University of Arkansas begin building a new computer model of Lake Wister that will increase our understanding of how the lake works, help set goals for lake improvement, and test options for lake and watershed management. Dr. Thad Scott from the University’s Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences Department will lead the modeling effort.

At the same time, his colleague Dr. Brian Haggard from the Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department at the University will lead a team of researchers who will visit 20 small streams that feed into the lake and take water samples for analysis. This sampling program will help identify “hot spots” in the watershed where activities could be focused to improve water quality with the best benefit for the least cost. This sampling program is funded by a partnership of PVIA with the Oklahoma Conservation Commission.

You can learn more about all these projects next Tuesday night at Lake Wister. On June 17 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm at the main picnic pavilion on Quarry Island, PVIA will host an information meeting where you can talk with PVIA staff, scientists, and representatives from all these groups.

You can read more about the proposed alum project here.

 

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Lake Wister Information Meeting

On Tuesday May 17, 2014 PVIA will host an informational meeting to answer questions regarding the proposed alum application this summer in Quarry Island Cove as well as other upcoming projects.

The meeting will be held at the main picnic pavilion on Quarry Island, Lake Wister State Park from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm.

A draft Environmental Assessment for the alum project is available for public review. Read the draft EA here.

 

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alum application boat

 

 

 

 

 

PVIA is considering a pilot project that would apply alum (aluminum sulfate) to the surface of Quarry Island Cove this summer (2014). Alum will bind with phosphorus, both in the water column, and in lake sediments which would reduce the nutrients available for algae and cyanobacteria (aka blue-green algae) to grow.

The US Army Corps of Engineers must approve the project before it can be implemented. Bio x Design has prepare a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) of the proposed project for PVIA. The draft EA has been submitted to the Corps and it is also now available for public review.

You can read or download the EA from the PVIA website here.

A hard copy is also available for review at the Poteau Public Library.

Written comments may be submitted to PVIA through July 1, 2014.

 

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Boil Order Lifted

The precautionary boil order that was issued on Friday was lifted this morning (Saturday 4-5-2014) at 9:15 am. PVIA Manager Don Goforth reported that residual disinfectant was now present in water throughout the distribution system. Customers may use the water in all normal ways.

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From time to time PVIA receives questions about fluoride from folks with concerns about potential health consequences. The PVIA Board supports fluoridation as a health benefit. PVIA adds fluoride to its treated drinking water at a rate of 0.7 milligrams/liter. In doing this, PVIA is following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control, the American Dental Association,  and the World Health Organization. Extensive scientific analysis supports the view that fluoride at this low concentration is safe and beneficial to health, not detrimental.

On April 22, 2013 the current US Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin, added her endorsement of community water fluoridation calling it “one of the most effective choices communities can make to prevent health problems while actually improving the oral health of their citizens.”

Dr. Benjamin made her endorsement in a letter sent to the National Oral Health Conference being held this week in Huntsville, Ala.  “Fluoridation’s effectiveness in preventing tooth decay is not limited to children, but extends throughout life, resulting in fewer and less severe cavities,” Dr. Benjamin said. “In fact, each generation born since the implementation of water fluoridation has enjoyed better dental health than the generation that preceded it.” [click to continue…]

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PVIA Plans Watershed Symposium

The Poteau River watershed is almost 2,000 square miles of hills and valleys, farms, National Forest, and towns in two states–Arkansas and Oklahoma. Lake Wister sits almost in the middle of the the watershed, right where the Poteau River turns north to the Arkansas River and the Oklahoma-Arkansas state line.

On March 15, 2013 PVIA will sponsor the first watershed meeting that brings together current work in both states and the Choctaw Nation.

Agenda

Poteau Valley Watershed Symposium, March 15, 2013

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Reducing Erosion from Unpaved Roads

By our most recent estimate, Lake Wister is losing about 475 acre-feet of capacity each year as sediment slowly fills the lake. Since Wister’s capacity is roughly 50,000 acre-feet, this means the lake is losing almost 1% of its capacity each year. That adds up. If this trend continues, in 20 years, we will have lost 20% of the lake capacity. There are many sources of sediment entering the lake. One of those is erosion from unpaved roads and ditches in the watershed.

Best management practices that can help reduce soil erosion from unpaved roads have the added benefit that, even if they cost a little extra up front, in the long run they save money for cash-strapped road maintenance departments by reducing on-going maintenance costs.

workshop in the fieldTo help jump start the implementation of these improved practices in southeastern Oklahoma, PVIA is partnering with the Choctaw Nation and The Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma to sponsor a workshop on February 28, 2013 at Lake Wister. The workshop will consist of presentation and discussion in the morning and a visit to an installation demonstration of several of techniques in the afternoon.

For more information, check out the workshop agenda here.

 

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White Pelicans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 3 was a beautiful morning for monitoring at Lake Wister. No wind all morning–an unusual event–so the lake was smooth and glassy, and the sky was clear and sunny. Joining us all morning were white pelicans, stopping off to spend some time at the lake on their way south. These amazing birds must be the largest that are regularly seen in this part of the world. With wingspans up to 9 feet, they can weigh up to 16 pounds. The American White Pelican (Pelecanus erthrorhynchos) summers on freshwater lakes in the northern US and southern Canada, and winters along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Spend their days fishing. Not a bad life. We certainly enjoyed their company as we performed our regular monthly lake sampling–making it anything but a regular day on Lake Wister.

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