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Black and Orange

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

What right do a group of fellows have to violate the Clean Water Act and dam up a natural flowing stream? No right. It is against the law.

They poopoo'd the kids last year and this year, "Boys being boys" was said. "Oh, I did this sort of thing while I was a kid, myself."

These same kids would have marveled as children at tadpoles and seeing the tiniest little fishes in the water and reached into water to cup them in their hands.

But damming our Tar Creek ruins the chances for the tiny ones to survive. Over and over the rocks have been removed and stacked to make the dams to trap water for selfish reasons.

Hiding under each of those rocks were the possibilities for the future of the tiny species that have rights to survival. These tiny ones are part of an ecosystem that is trying its best to not only survive in the most difficult water, loaded with heavy metals. But when these rocks that provide cover and protection, are removed. There goes their hope and the life in the stream that would provide the precious food for the songbirds you might love to hear or see. What we were reminded of by Tom Whipple during the Tar Creek Conference, the birds need food or they can't live here either.

Men who build dams. Go back to school, learn to build houses, or bridges, learn to be game rangers. Get a life so the rest of the lives you have no regard can move on and have theirs.

This last dam was discovered after our 3 inch rains by a person I have referred to as "The Man on the Log" who watches the water, for changes and he noticed the water's level had risen and that the water was black. Black water brought back memories of all those dead fish found in the water in Tar Creek, get this: those were 10,000. How could they be there in those numbers? We thank the years of work Bob Nairn and his teams of OU students and the passive water treatment systems he had constructed to capture some of the mine water discharge and passively treat it before it enters Tar Creek. Bob's efforts diminished the color enough, the orange wasn't showing in the waters after those joined up with Tar.

The loading from Commerce had been caught and treated, but the flow coming from the mines still spills and spoils our water.

The man who stood sentential on Tar Creek years ago, saw something was wrong. He knew the change in the water was substantial. He insisted Black water is not right.

Not anytime. Not even to generate the colors of the season. Black and orange. Black water and the trees along the banks still orange from the decades of flood waters high on the trees, laden with the metals we know have and still are contained in our Tar Creek. This is no way to mark the calendar, to decorate this season.

Some Halloween. Black water and orange trees. The ribbon of black water ran through our silent neglectful town, dressing it for the holiday.

I was tricked. I believed it was simple. Just some backwater, aged by the fallen leaves and held still and trapped, and would on release dissipate and clear. The Man on the Log knew I was wrong.

After we had breached the dam the black water kept coming. Each access point going north it continued to be blackened water, until it wasn't.

The reports went to DEQ Hotline, Oklahoma Water Resources Board, the City of Miami. DEQ will determine who has released the black water and they will get a talking to, or a fine.

OWRB will refer to the Army Corps of Engineers and they will refer this all to your buddies GRDA and they will pull on their big boy britches and come over here and police our dam, take it down and then But the harm that was done to the ecosystem in a damaged creek is done. The little ones that might have been there trying to get life going again can't get that life back. And the creek gets another setback. Just when you were all saying, it is looking so much better. Black and dead is not better.

As the late John Lewis would say, "We have been too quiet for too long. There comes a time when you have to say something. You have to move your feet. Now is the time."

We would like help restoring the harmed environment. Then you can get back to writing your stories to FERC and studying our Flood Map.

Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim

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