Just that day I had heard a story on the radio that left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
In 2007 Hugo, OK contracted with Severn Trent an international company to treat their water and seven years later the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality found the company was in violation of drinking water standards for 371 days and fined them $10,000 a day for a record 3.17 million dollars. It was the largest fine they had ever assessed and the company requested a hearing and a judge reduced it to almost one million dollars. This money went into the DEQ revolving fund to be used to help cities like Hugo upgrade water treatment facilities. Now that money has been taken by the state to deal with the budget issues the legislators failed to do during its regular session this year.
Hugo was left with bad water, even though the fine was assessed to be able to help improve their water.
Who protects our regulators and makes sure they stand fast to be able to protect us?
Regulations! No one seems to want them, until it is your water and your health or your child's. To me regulators translate to protectors and much like we like police until we see that car beside the road and suddenly realize the speed limit and how fast we are driving might not be the same. They are regulators, making sure we do right. The DEQ does the same, they make sure the water we drink, here and the rest of the state, cities, towns and rural communities have safe drinking water. They monitor the spills we have into our creeks, rivers and lakes because in many cases those waters are the source for our drinking water.
Mark your calendars and get ready to make your way to the Miami Civic Center for the August 16 Open House EPA is hosting to hear the Good News about the tri-state mining district environmental protection efforts. It will be held from 4 to 7 pm.
The Open House format is a come and go, meet and greet type of experience. You will be able to meet EPA and DEQ officials who are working on this superfund site. Come by LEAD Agency's table and we will give you some ideas for questions to ask the big guys so you will walk away with answers you need and we will whet your whistle for more.
It would be a good time for a Bake Sale for DEQ after learning about their recent loss of funding. You can even drop by that batch of brownies or cookies for the bake sale.
To make sure they have enough funding to keep testing these waters, come to the Open House, get a cookie, get the lowdown and get set for the Tar Creek Conference Sept 13 & 14 right there in the Miami Civic Center, too.
We'll need to have another sale for DEQ then, too, we want their continued involvement here at the Tar Creek Superfund site, until it is "decommissioned" or whenever the work is complete and this site is deemed to be fixed.
Years ago Sheila Hestand designed the emblem for LEAD Agency to represent our hopes for the future. The design's colors will change as the environment improves, the orange water will turn to blue, the mountains of chat will be gone and the future will be bright.
For now it reminds me of the theme for the 18th National Environmental Tar Creek Conference, "A Creek Runs Through It." And as the years pass in the future, the colors will be changing both our environment and our emblem and perhaps those cookies will leave a better taste in my mouth.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim