NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:
On July 23, the DEQ hosted a public meeting to present a draft of the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for Lake Thunderbird.
Several city staff were in attendance, along with state employees OCC and EPA staff. Also present was a strong contingent of developers, construction industry lobbyists and the politicians who represent their interests at the state Capitol.
Once the final draft of the TMDL study is complete, the clock starts ticking. Norman will have 24 months to cut pollutant loads to Lake Thunderbird by 35 percent or else face hefty fines.
There is a bit of history to how this TMDL study has unfolded, why it was necessary and how the city of Norman and its various actors have dealt with the information.
From 2008 to 2009, state agencies began monitoring critical areas in the watershed to produce hydrologic models that would inform the TMDL study. The goal was to identify sources and levels of pollution and to help determine how best to fix it.
In June 2011, with the TMDL and subsequent federal mandates looming in the background, city officials took a proactive stance, adopting the Stormwater Master Plan and passing a Water Quality Protection Zone ordinance.
Push back from developers has been fierce. They continue to fight implementation of any scientifically proven environmental controls recommended by the Stormwater Master Plan. This “total war” strategy embraced by the Norman Developers Council has not been without success.
In retaliation for the city imposing what turned out to be rather weak and flexible environmental controls, NDC — along with certain factions at the Chamber — threw their support behind the most oppositional, regressive political caricatures they could find.
Former Council members Spaulding, Gallagher and Lockett all had campaign coffers that would have remained mostly empty without the steady flow of money from developers. And in 2012, they managed to stack the deck with another joker, Chad Williams.