History of the Oklahoma Stream Team
In early 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approached INCOG about the feasibility of establishing a Stream Team for the Tulsa area. The intent was to pattern one after the Texas Stream Team established a few years earlier by a partnership between EPA and the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG). While startup grant funding was being pursued, INCOG organized a coalition of State and Federal agencies to create a technical base for supporting future OST projects.
The initial meetings in late 2004 and early 2005 were enthusiastic and productive. Membership in OST was kept informal and open, resulting in over 80 participants within the first few years. Goals were established, and INCOG began developing an OST brochure and display board items for showing at workshops and conferences. What began as simply a Tulsa area program quickly expanded to Statewide issues, hence the name change to Oklahoma Stream Team.
Several projects were pursued with OST technical assistance. Working with OST members, INCOG hosted or helped coordinate several conferences and workshops devoted to urban water quality and stream protection. In February 2007, the Oklahoma Stream Team hosted a four day conference in Oklahoma City. Dr. Greg Jennings of North Carolina State University was the featured speaker. His 2-day workshop at the conference helped technical staff from a variety of agencies and consulting firms gain an in-depth understanding of how urban streams can be restored in an environmentally protective manner.
In 2006, the OST assisted the Oklahoma State University's Botanical Gardens (OSU-BG) with revisions to their Master Plan for future infrastructure changes. The original plan called for new roads and walkways, a new education building and pond. Initially asked to assist with simply an eroding creek channel on the property's edge, the OSU-BG's staff became enthusiastic about working with the OST members to expand the Master Plan to include water quality research opportunities as well as creating a premier functional display of Low Impact Development (LID) and Green Building practices throughout the complex.
The OST members worked closely with OSU-BG staff and OSU architecture professors to create over a dozen facility changes that will, once built, act as a showcase of learning about LID, stream restoration, and urban water quality protection. Details of the plans are found at the Projects webpage.
As the EPA supporting grant ends in December 2007, INCOG is committed to maintaining the OST efforts in Oklahoma. There will be new partnerships and new projects. The OST programs help support the Statewide stormwater protection programs being developed by cities and counties that have Phase I and II stormwater permits. The Green Country Stormwater Alliance and OST share common goals to protect urban watersheds and enhance water quality.