Bug picking with the Stormwater Management Division

bug pick
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Published November 4, 2022

Caitlin Gatlin | Communications & Marketing Manager

The City of Lawton’s Stormwater Division plays an incredibly important role in our community by monitoring the runoff that eventually finds its way into our neighbor’s drinking water.

That’s done in many ways, but Friday, it was done through bug picking. It’s a tedious process that will ultimately determine the health of our local creeks.

The bugs for this event came from East Cache Creek that the Stormwater Division collected back in July.

The City of Lawton partners with Blue Thumb Oklahoma, a stream protection program with state oversight, that volunteers their time to process the findings.

"We really need three major portions to determine how healthy the creek is," said Becky Zawalski, Field Educator for Blue Thumb Oklahoma. "We have our chemical data, bug data, and we have fish data collected every four to five years, and our physical habitat. Once we get those together, we'll have a good example of how our creek is doing."

Zawalski estimates about 300 bugs in a tray, but it’s representative of up 9,600 collected within a three square meter section of the creek. We are looking for quality, quantity & diversity. The more diversity, the healthier the creek.

"More diversity means we have all the habitat for those bugs, the food sources and predator and prey dynamic is in good equilibrium," Zawalski said.

Mike Hawkins has been with the City of Lawton for 16 years and says this project is vital for the health of our community.

"You've got animals that drink water, kids that play in the creeks, and somewhere down the line, that is someone's drinking water," said Hawkins. "That's what we do, try to maintain the health of the creeks."

Once these bugs are collected, Blue Thumb will send the results off to the EPA who will ultimately determine the health of East Cache Creek, with results expected in a year.

"East Cache for Rogers Lane has been good," said Zawalksi. "The downstream site hasn't been as good, but still healthy from what we can see, just by looking at the bugs."

In the meantime, there are plenty of ways YOU can ensure we have healthy creeks in the City of Lawton.

"Animal waste is a big contributor to excess nutrients that can harm the water, so pick up after your dog," suggested Zawalski. "If you want to spray fertilizer, don't use as much and do it after a rain."

All of the creeks in the City of Lawton are monitored through the same process, but are usually done by Cameron University students & volunteers!

If you’d like to be a part of the process to keep our water clean & healthy, we’d love to have you as a volunteer! For more information, contact the City of Lawton’s Stormwater Division at (580) 581-3478.


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