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TULSA, Okla. -- A watershed that helps supply Tulsa's taps
would hold excess phosphorous for decades, even if all land
application of chicken waste there was stopped today, a new study
The Oklahoma State University study found that 74 percent of the
phosphorous flowing into Lake Eucha is coming from non-point sources
such as chicken litter. Another 24 percent comes from the city
wastewater plant in Decatur, Ark., which is fed by a chicken
The study found it would take five years to see a reduction of
phosphorous levels in the Lake Eucha watershed with no land
application of waste.
After 30 years, the levels of phosphorus in the soil still would
be significantly higher than normal agricultural crop production
levels, the study showed.
The study is the third commissioned by the Tulsa Metropolitan
Utility Authority indicating that lakes Eucha and Spavinaw are being
degraded by phosphorus. The lakes combine as one of Tulsa's main
drinking water sources.
Too much phosphorous fuels voracious algae growth, causing taste
and odor problems in the water.
With current application practices, which have been limited since
1998, the phosphorus could easily double by 2023, said study author
Dan Storm, an associate professor in the Department of Biosystems and
The phosphorous would slowly leach itself from the soil if all
non-point sources of phosphorus are eliminated from the watershed, he
The Lake Eucha watershed lies in both Oklahoma and Arkansas and
encompasses a proliferating chicken industry. The highest phosphorus
levels are in Arkansas, which has 40 years of chicken production to
Oklahoma's 25, officials said.
``Give Oklahoma another 10 years, and it will be in the same place
as Arkansas,'' Storm said.
Mixing alum with chicken litter before land application could help
reduce the effects of phosphorous, he said. Alum also could be used
to treat the lakes.
Such lake treatment would cost the city about $1 million annually,
utility authority chairwoman Patsy Bragg said.
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