Section  319
                                 "ROPRAM  ACCESS STORY
National NFS Monitoring Project Reduces Nutrient Loads, Decreases
Streambank Erosion, and Improves Biological Communities
I           H
                               Peacheater and Tyner creeks are tributaries to the Illinois River and
                               LakeTenkiller in northeastern Oklahoma— waterbodies that have
                               exhibited visible problems associated with excessive phosphorus
and sediment since at least the early 1990s. Impairments in the watersheds are primarily from animal
wastes. Peacheater Creek landowners implemented best management practices (BMPs) such as
riparian buffers, alternative livestock water sources and better animal waste management techniques.
Nutrient loading to Peacheater Creek declined as compared to Tyner Creek, an adjacent control water-
shed with no project-specific BMP implementation. In addition, streambank erosion declined and
biological communities improved in the Peacheater Creek watershed relative to the Tyner watershed.
Implementing additional BMPs should result in continued water quality improvement in  Peacheater
Creek and the entire Illinois River watershed.
Peacheater Creek, a 10.3-mile-long stream, and
Tyner Creek, an adjacent stream 15 miles long,
are tributaries to the Illinois River (Figure 1). Both
creeks are impaired by Enterococcus, which caused
Oklahoma to list them on its 2006 Clean Water Act
(CWA) section  303(d) list. The creeks also contribute
to the nutrient  impairments present in the larger
receiving waterbodies such as the Illinois River,
which has been included on the section 303(d)
list since 1998  for nutrients, metals, low dissolved
oxygen, habitat alteration and siltation. Because of
their proximity to each other and their location in the
Illinois River watershed, these two creeks were cho-
sen to demonstrate the effectiveness of BMPs to
reduce delivery of nutrients, sediment and bacteria
to the Illinois River and Lake Tenkiller, using a paired
watershed design to assess improvements. The goal
for the project  is to expand the BMPs to the larger
Illinois River watershed and achieve the 0.037 milli-
gram per liter (mg/L) in-stream phosphorus standard
(30-day geometric mean) in the Illinois River.

Land use in the 16,209-acre Peacheater Creek water-
shed is primarily pastureland and forestland, with
small amounts of cropland and rangeland. There are
approximately  65 poultry houses and 4 dairies in the
watershed, as well as about 1,200 beef cattle and
176 private residences. The primary sources of nutri-
ent, bacteria and sediment pollution include poorly
managed poultry waste, conversion of forestland
to pastureland  and improper pasture and livestock
                                                             Monitoring Sites
                                                             Cooperator's Land
                             Figure 1. Peacheater Creek (treatment) and Tyner Creek
                             (control) watersheds. Shaded areas indicate where coop-
                             erators implemented BMPs.

                             management. These factors contributed to stream-
                             bank erosion and other impacts downstream, includ-
                             ing degraded habitat, nuisance periphyton growth,
                             phytoplankton blooms and summer hypolimnetic
                             anoxia in Lake Tenkiller. In general, the streams have
                             become wider, shallower and loaded with nutrients
                             and soil, which resulted in loss of fish habitat and
                             increased algae growth. The adjacent Tyner Creek

watershed, which was used as the control water-
shed, is similar in size and land use to Peacheater
Creek, with approximately the same amount of
agriculture and other nonpoint source impacts.
Table 1. Median total number of individuals collected
in fish surveys (over 400-meter reaches) during the pre-
implementation versus post-implementation period.
Project Highlights
This project is part of the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency's (EPA's) National Nonpoint
Source (NPS) Monitoring Program. Landowners
implemented BMPs in the Peacheater Creek
watershed from 1998 through 2002, and water
quality was compared to that of the Tyner Creek
watershed, which received no project-specific
BMPs. Eleven landowners installed BMPs in the
Peacheater Creek watershed, including adding
riparian buffers, providing alternative water sup-
plies for cattle, constructing heavy-use areas  for
feeding livestock and storing wastes, transporting
poultry litter out of the watershed, better managing
pastures, and repairing or installing septic tanks.
Pre-implementation monitoring  in both watersheds
occurred from 1995 to 1998, with post-implementa-
tion monitoring happening from 2003 to 2005.
Comparison between pre-and post-implemen-
tation monitoring periods reveals numerous
beneficial changes. Phosphorus concentrations
in the Peacheater Creek watershed decreased
approximately 9 percent, and phosphorus loading
decreased approximately 71 percent over expected
values from pre-implementation conditions. Nitrate
concentrations decreased approximately 23 percent,
total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations decreased by
approximately 21 percent, and total nitrogen loading
decreased by approximately 58 percent.

In addition, Peacheater Creek showed signifi-
cantly decreased streambank erosion after BMP
implementation. The median pre-implementation
erosional area was 4.1 square feet versus post-
implementation erosional area of 1.7 square feet.
Erosional area in Tyner Creek was also reduced, but
it was not a significant difference.

The Peacheater Creek watershed also exhib-
its improved habitat and water quality. Post-
implementation fish collections have greater
numbers of fish than did  pre-implementation
collections for both watersheds (Table 1), but
Peacheater Creek showed a greater increase in
this parameter than did Tyner Creek. There was
 Note: n represents the number of fish surveys.

significant improvement in the index of biological
integrity score for the summer index samples of
macroinvertebrates for Peacheater Creek (from 29
to 34), while Tyner Creek showed no significant

The observed and predicted water quality improve-
ments that resulted from implementing BMPs in the
Peacheater Creek watershed indicate that practices
implemented at a similar intensity throughout the
larger Illinois River watershed could provide substan-
tial reductions in loading both to the Illinois River
and to Lake Tenkiller. The Oklahoma Conservation
Commission is overseeing a Conservation Reserve
Enhancement Program as well as a current CWA
section 319 project in the Illinois River watershed.
It is hoped that widespread BMP implementation
will allow the Illinois River to achieve the in-stream
phosphorus standard  of 0.037 mg/L (30-day geo-
metric mean) in the near future. For more project
information see and type
"Peacheater" into the search box.
Partners and Funding
Funding for the project was a combination of
money from EPA's CWA section 319 program
and Oklahoma. The total cost was approximately
$800,000. This included $477,000 in federal dollars
from EPA section 319, $318,000 in state dollars and
cost-share funds from landowners. This project dem-
onstrated that in small agricultural watersheds, sig-
nificant water quality improvement is possible with a
relatively low investment in implementation of BMPs.
Many different groups participated in the  Peacheater
Creek project, including the Oklahoma Conservation
Commission, Adair County Conservation District,
Cherokee County Conservation District, Oklahoma
Department of Agriculture, Adair County Extension
Service, Oklahoma State University Cooperative
Extension Service, Natural Resources Conservation
Service, Farm Services Agency, local producers,
poultry integrators and animal waste marketers.
     U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
     Office of Water
     Washington, DC

     June 2009
For additional information contact:
Shanon Phillips
Oklahoma Conservation Commission