The Otoe-Missouria Tribe recognizes the importance of protecting their environment. This concern and acknowledgement is reflected by their actions. They have created a mission statement, “to protect the environment and conserve natural resources within all Otoe-Missouria Jurisdictional Lands”. The Tribe is a member of the Cherokee Nation’s Inter-Tribal Environmental Council (ITEC) Consortia consisting of 39 tribes within Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. The Tribe has conducted a Baseline Environmental Characterization, an Environmental Assessment, developed the Environmental Protection Commission and completed Environmental Codes on the issues of Solid Waste, Toxic and Hazardous Substance Control, Water Quality and the Environmental Protection Commission. In 1998, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency accepted an Otoe-Missouria Tribal Master Plan and an Otoe-Missouria Tribal Quality Management Plan. Each year thereafter, the Tribe submits revisions for each document for review and signed approval.
The Tribe is currently in its 11th year of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Grants. The Otoe-Missouria Environmental Department is totally funded through pollution control and environmental management grants from the US Environmental Protection Agency to help establish and maintain monitoring programs and report the results of monitoring activities to the EPA. The Water Pollution Control Program is funded through a grant received through the Clean Water Act (CWA), Section 106, Water Pollution Control Program. The CWA Section 106 Water Pollution Control Program provides financial assistance for maintaining adequate measures for prevention and control of surface and ground water pollution from both point and nonpoint sources. Tribes can conduct watershed assessments and can maintain and improve their capacity to implement water quality programs through monitoring, assessments, planning and standards develop0ment. Water Pollution Control grants are intended to provide continuing support for the prevention and abatement of surface and ground water pollution from point and nonpoint sources. Types of water quality management program activities funded include water quality planning and standards development; monitoring and assessments; inspections and enforcement; permitting; training; advice and assistance to local agencies; and public information.
The Water Quality Technician (WQT) has administrative responsibilities, to include water quality knowledge, use of, and maintenance of monitoring equipment, reporting and record keeping. The WQT is also be responsible for the accomplishment of the objectives, coordination of activities, program budget compliance, meeting all reporting requirements, and all other duties to properly complete project.
Our main objective is to protect the environment for our tribal members by gathering data and monitoring environmental media such as the land, air and water for any long term subtle changes or immediate abrupt changes. The Environmental Department is currently sampling and monitoring 5 surface water sites including Red Rock Creek, Black Bear Creek and the Tribal Wetland area.
Surface water monitoring can be conducted for many purposes. Purposes for monitoring include: characterize waters and identify changes or trends in water quality over time; identify specific existing or emerging water quality problems; gather information to design specific pollution prevention or remediation programs; determine whether program goals, such as compliance with pollution regulations or implementation of effective pollution control actions, are being met.
There are many ways to monitor water condition. Monitoring specialists can sample the chemical condition of the water, sediments, and fish tissue to determine levels of key constituents such as dissolved oxygen, nutrients, metals, oils, and pesticides. Physical conditions such as temperature, flow, sediments, and the erosion potential of stream bands can also be monitored. Biological measurements of the abundance and variety of aquatic plant and animal life and the ability of test organisms to survive in sample water are also widely used to monitor water conditions. Currently the OMED is testing for the following parameters: Temperature, pH, Dissolved Oxygen, Conductivity, Flow, Chloride, E. Coli, Total Suspended Solids, Ammonia Nitrogen, Nitrate, Nitrite, Copper, Lead, Total Hardness. Once a year we also conduct a Rapid Bioassessment of Benthic Invertebrates on Red Rock and Black Bear Creeks.