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Shanon Phillips, OCC Water Quality Division director, addresses an audience at the NRCS People's Garden in Washington, D.C. to explain Oklahoma's local-state-federal recipe for water quality success.

Shanon Phillips, OCC Water Quality Division director, addresses an audience at the NRCS People’s Garden in Washington, D.C. to explain Oklahoma’s local-state-federal recipe for water quality success.

September 25, 2014 – The Oklahoma Conservation Commission reports that Oklahoma soil health and water quality experts traveled to Washington, D.C., last week at the invitation of Congressman Frank Lucas and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief, Jason Weller to testify before the U.S. House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy and Forestry.

In her testimony, Shanon Phillips, Oklahoma Conservation Commission Water Quality Division director explained joint federal and state data collection proves local soil conservation efforts are delivering local results in improved water quality.

“The negative implications of poor soil health on our ability to produce food and maintain acceptable water quality are of national importance,” Phillips testified. Her voice was joined by Weller, National Association of Conservation Districts CEO, John Larson, and local conservation-minded farmers.

The testimony was followed by a rainfall simulator demonstration at the NRCS People’s Garden led by Conservation Commission Soil Scientist, Greg Scott. The rainfall simulator demonstrates the link between soil health and water quality by showing how much soil and debris flow into waterways from different surfaces such as pavement, cropland and grassland. The simulation emphasizes the importance of keeping soil covered with vegetation at all times and that pollutants such as oil and trash wash from parking lots flow into waterways—increasing water treatment costs.

Scott explained how pro-soil health practices in Oklahoma have helped remove 50 streams from EPA’s impaired stream list and sequester carbon dioxide equivalent to the removal of over 4,000 cars from the road annually.

Oklahomans can see rainfall simulator demonstrations at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo in Guthrie at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday.