Dr. Jim Beck and his wife Sara bought their ranch just outside Seneca, Mo 35 years
ago. According to Beck, the effluent that runs into Lost Creek has always been green. “It’s usually a bright or lime green, not this dark color green. And that foam, that goes with it. That can’t be good,” he said. Seneca, Missouri is on the border of Missouri and Oklahoma and is located in Lost Creek Valley, five miles upstream from Grand Lake.
Effluent is defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as
“wastewater, treated or untreated, that flows out of a treatment plant, sewer, or industrial outfall. Generally refers to wastes discharged into surface waters.”
“They are building a new treatment plant, which is good,” said Beck. “The old one was always a problem.
Some days the odor was so bad. I don’t know how those people could stand it over there at the ball fields watching the games,” he added pointing to the Seneca Ball Park just up the hill.
Beck explained that the treatment plant put in new aerators a few years ago and that has really helped with the odor, but sometimes it’s still pretty bad. “This is a beautiful stream on the edge of the Ozarks. This is a tragedy of modern day sewage contamination,” said Beck. Beck said that from what he has been told, “Sewage effluent should not look like this. It’s supposed to be clear, odorless and potable,”
Seneca Public Works Director Doyle Shields explained that it’s an algae. “It’s the same thing as Grand Lake, just not the same algae. It’s not a big deal. It’s what happens when there is a long dry hot spell like we’ve had,” he said.
According to Shields, “We started treating the water yesterday (Wednesday) with copper sulfate that will dissipate the algae.” He said it is a non-toxic algae, that can be treated at the treatment plant because unlike Grand Lake, the treatment plant has contained water.
“It’s the same algae you sometimes see in ponds on farms,” said Shields. He said farmers use the same copper sulfate in their bonds.
According to Skylar McHaney, Public Information Officer for the Oklahoma State Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), “We are working an active complaint regarding the water released from the Seneca Wastewater Treatment Plant, specifi cally the color of the release.”
DEQ received the complaint on July 18. “Because this is an active complaint we can not release more information at this time,” said McHaney.
Beck said he has notifi ed authorities including the mayor, Dr. Doug Cox and the state Department of Environmental Quality.
According to Beck, the green effluent comes into Lost Creek about eight miles from where it drops into Grand Lake at Wyandotte, and about a quarter mile from where
his cattle drink. “I had a cow die on Friday. I can’t say for sure what she died from, but she was only four years old. In this excessive heat, it’s hard to say, but I know that this doesn’t look right,” he said, pointing again to the cloud of green in the creek. “It’s like the cloud of doom. I don’t know what that is, but it’s not supposed to be here. If you go about a little more than a half a mile down and you can still see it,” he said.