Animal AgricultureNutrient ReductionStream Restoration / Protection

BMPs Result in Significant Reduction of Bacteria and Phosphorus Loading

Resource Concern:

The Beaty Creek watershed contains approximately 39 chicken houses; hog and turkey operations; and extensive, streamside cattle grazing on pasture fertilized with animal waste. Septic systems, land development, some row crop agriculture and fertilizer application are also found in the watershed. These activities have cumulatively generated a high amount of nonpoint source pollution and resulted in elevated levels of bacteria in Beaty Creek. In 2002, Oklahoma placed all 13 miles of Beaty Creek on the 303(d) list as impaired for E. coli and Enterococcus. In addition, high levels of phosphorus loading contributed to eutrophication and phosphorus exceedance in Lake Eucha, a downstream reservoir.

Solution:

The number one restoration priority for the area was riparian buffer establishment and protection. Another focus was disseminating information on pasture management and proper application of poultry litter as fertilizer. Numerous educational workshops, meetings, and tours demonstrating BMPs in the watershed were essential. Approximately 100 cost-share contracts to implement BMPs in the watershed were signed into action in both Oklahoma and Arkansas. BMPs included establishing 335 acres of riparian buffer areas, establishing/managing approximately 10,000 acres of pasture; the provision of more than 150 alternative water sources for cattle; the construction of 56 heavy use areas, 16 cattle feeding/water storage facilities, 31 miles of cross fencing, four poultry waste storage facilities; and the replacement of 27 septic systems.

Benefit:

The resulting water quality improvements led to Beaty Creek being nominated for removal from the 2006 303(d) list for E. coli, bringing it one step closer to full attainment of the Primary Body Contact Recreation (PBCR) beneficial use. In addition, BMPs have reduced the expected loading of phosphorus in the watershed as compared to a control watershed with no BMPs. Independent analysis of water quality data, conducted by Oklahoma State University, using a paired watershed methodology showed a 31 percent decrease in expected phosphorus loading to the lake from Beaty Creek in the presence of BMPs, compared to expected loading in the absence of BMPs. Average flow-weighted phosphorus concentrations decreased from 0.220 mg/L to 0.191 mg/L.