The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

October 7, 2012

EPA awards grants to Ottawa, Peoria tribes to support water monitoring

From staff reports

MIAMI, Okla. — The Environmental Protection Agency has announced a $120,000 grant to the Ottawa Tribe and a $118,000 grant to the Peoria Tribe in Northeast Oklahoma to pay for continued monitoring of water quality.

“It’s very good news,” said Ethel Cook, chief of the Ottawa Tribe. “As you know, in our area here our water needs to be constantly monitored.”

The tribes have been conducting water quality testing for most of the past decade.

The grants will be used to test surface water on tribal lands, said Sam Reynolds, a project officer with the EPA’s regional office in Dallas. Sites that the Ottawa Tribe will test include Spring River, Neosho River, Little Elm Creek and Tar Creek.

Peoria Chief John Froman said his tribe also will be testing locations along the Spring and Neosho rivers, Tar Creek, and an unnamed tributary on the tribe’s powwow grounds.

“They will be sampling within the tribe’s jurisdiction site,” Reynolds said.

The tribes have the ability to test for heavy metals, which may be the result of nearly a century of mining and chat piles left over after the mines were closed. They also can test for E. coli, nitrogen and phosphorus levels, which could be evidence of more contemporary problems, including agricultural runoff and septic system leaks.

Cook said the sampling will be used to compile data that could show changes over time and may help determine if a more thorough watershed management program is needed in the area. The money also could be used to set up a program to reduce pollution and improve the health of stream ecosystems.