|Updated: 11/15/2013 7:27 pm
||Published: 11/15/2013 5:01 pm
Dozens of people in Tahlequah listened to a briefing from the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday.
The EPA is working to make new water standards for the Illinois River, a major water source for the city.
FOX23's Farron Salley has been digging to see what the holdup is and what people living the area say needs to happen.
The Oklahoma Scenic River Commission is the headquarters for nature lovers and for people who share a common frustration with a water quality battle that's raged for years.
The Illinois River is home to hikers, fishers and sight seers in general.
But it's also near Nancy Garber's home.
"It is essential to the city of Tahlequah that our water source be clean and pure," she said.
Garber said it's not always clear and pollution comes from upstream.
"Tahlequah is growing, northeastern Oklahoma is growing, but not nearly as quickly as northwest Arkansas is growing," she said.
Salley talked to the OSRC to find the root of the problem.
"From the time I came to work, the Oklahoma river basin population has tripled," said Edward Fite, with the Oklahoma Scenic River Commission.
Part of the problem is environmental standards.
Oklahoma's are stricter than Arkansas.
"It's the old not in my backyard syndrome, it's gone we don't see it, it's headed for Lake Tenkiller, well I don't live on Lake Tenkiller sort of mentality," said Garber.
But that mentality is now costing the people here in more ways than one.
This is why the EPA proposed a system to help regulate the value and quality of water in Tahlequah.
"At the end of the day those assigned values are put into a model where we insure that we don't have too many pollutants going into the river or into the water so that we keep the water clean," said Fite.
But that recommendation won't be proposed to the bordering state for another year.
There were about 70 people at the EPA meeting. They hope by next year that Arkansas will feel compelled to help them out and adopt the new water quality levels.
Officials also said it could start costing more, the water is pumped about a mile and half downstream and it becomes drinking water for the city of Tahlequah.
“You’ll see an increased cost for the city of Tahlequah and other municipalities who pull water from the river and try to treat it for drinking water purposes,” said Fite.