KGOU

Grand River Dam Authority

Ed Fite, executive director of the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission, stands next to a mountain of life vests at one of the resorts on the Illinois River.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Come July 1, the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission will be no more.

Gov. Mary Fallin on May 11 signed a bill disbanding the small state agency, transferring its mission — and employees — to the Grand River Dam Authority, which now takes on the Commission’s role of keeping Oklahoma’s six scenic rivers clean and safe for tourists.

Grand River Dam Authority CEO Dan Sullivan speaking to the April meeting of the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission is a small agency with a big job: Police the Illinois River and protect six of the state’s most delicate waterways from pollution. But budget cuts have forced the commission to plan  for its own death.

The Pensacola Dam at the south end of Grand Lake in northeast Oklahoma.
groov3 / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The group that oversees the Grand Lake wants the Federal Energy Regulatory Agency to grant it permanent relief from what’s known as a rule curve, which regulates lake levels throughout the year.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

There’s a report out from a group of environmental organizations including Waterkeeper Alliance and the Sierra Club that says there are “essentially no limits” on the amounts toxic metals coal-fired power plants can dump into Oklahoma’s waterways.

Doug Wertman / Flickr Creative Commons

The summer was tough on the Grand River Dam Authority’s relationship with Gov. Mary Fallin.

It started when the GRDA announced plans earlier this year to spend almost $400 million to build a new natural gas power plant, and upgrade its newest coal-fired plant in compliance with new federal regulations.