This was the message from two Oklahoma City officials who spoke March 31, explaining their role in watershed protection, which means protecting lakes, rivers, or streams by managing the entire watershed that drains into them.
Public outreach manager Andrea Shelton and Environmental Protection Manager Raymond Melton came to campus as part of a series of programs centered on water issues. They were invited by college librarians in conjunction with OCCC Reads, which selected the book “Water Matters” this year.
As an example, one program collected 327 tons of trash, mainly plastic, from the Oklahoma River in one year, Melton said. The program is funded through city water bills.
“Trying to keep pollutants out of the water is our main goal,” Melton said. “This includes all types of trash.”
Oklahoma City has four drainage basins: Deer Creek, Deep Fork Creek, the North Canadian River and the Canadian River (sometimes referred to as the South Canadian).
During their presentation Melton said that human activities, particularly urbanization, can alter natural drainage patterns and add pollutants to the rainwater and snowmelt that run off the Earth’s surface and enter the waterways. Studies have shown that stormwater runoff is a major source of the pollutants.
One strategy to discourage pollution is to make disposal simple, Shelton said.
Shelton also mentioned that semi-annual collection events allow city residents to properly dispose of unwanted computers, ammunition, furniture, tires and pharmaceuticals.
Bethany, Edmond, El Reno, Moore, Shawnee, Tinker AFB, the Village, Warr Acres, and Yukon are part of all the programs that Stormwater Quality Management offers, Shelton said.
For more information on when they will be hosting another collection, visit www.okc.gov/swq or call Melton at 405-297-1774.