Protecting Luther’s Groundwater

Bison Blinds

The Oklahoma Legislature is working on a bill to keep up with new federal rules governing water and “forever” chemicals, also known as PFAs, that could appear in the water supply. The bill seems to shield governments, including the state and towns like Luther, from liability if those harmful chemicals are found. The measure is a reaction to new Environmental Protection Agency rules.

Read about HB 2305
The measure holds that certain protected passive receivers of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) shall not be liable for the release of such substances into the environment. The exemption shall only apply if the protected passive receiver of PFAS manages, transports, conveys, treats, disposes of, or arranges for the transport, treatment, or disposal of PFAS, in compliance with relevant state and federal laws.

That might sound good, but not so fast. Some are raising red flags about the measure, including Luther farmer Saundra Traywick. She is speaking to the Luther Town Board of Trustees Special Meeting (Thursday at 6:30 pm) to provide information and encourage town leaders to test their water supply in case the proposed legislation makes it to the governor’s desk. While the Town of Luther tests its water regularly and remains in compliance with state regulators, the new guidelines will expand testing to detect if PFAs are present.

Traywick has presented before the Town Board of Trustees before. In 2020, she successfully encouraged the passage of a ban on biosolids, also known as “humanure,” also known as “poop sludge,” also known as “putrid-stink-so-bad-you-must-run-inside-if-you-smell-it” on fields within town limits. The measure was controversial at the time, and is one of the only such bans in the state. The waste comes from nearby cities’ sewers (waste disposal plants) who treat it and truck it out to willing farmers to save money on fertilizer for their crops. Around here, most of those fields are for hay, which livestock eventually eat.

Traywick’s advocacy for safe water and health has led some state-level elected representatives in our area to call her an “environmental extremist.” Undaunted, she has been monitoring HB 2305. She is concerned about the new rules because of the putrid biosolids that are put on fields (outside of Luther town limits) but still over the region’s water supply. She says they contain harmful PFAs (forever chemicals), diseases and other harmful substances.

Traywick was a guest on the ROPE Report Live podcast on Wednesday morning to explain the issue. The show is hosted by Jenni White who served as Luther mayor from 2017 – 2021. Watching or listening to get up to speed on this issue is worth your time. Watch it here.

Traywick’s Slidedeck

Traywick provided The Luther Register with her slide deck, which was used in the podcast. The slides help explain the issue.


The rest of the meeting

The Luther Board has a packed agenda for April 25. In addition to the presentation from Traywick (a no-action item), action items include what to do with the old dilapidated (but full of so many memories of Cox Field) concession stand in the back of the Dollar General store and adding a T-ball field at Wild Horse Park for Luther Little League. There is also an executive session to discuss two contracts with separate vendors. Check out the agendas on the town’s website.

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  1. The town of Luther doesn’t care about it’s residents. If Saundra is an environmental extremist, I guess that makes me a terrorist. I wish I had a time machine so I could go back in time and never set foot in this godawful place.

    1. Genuinely, do you have a list of things/grievances that could be addressed to improve your attitude about Luther? And who do you mean by the “town” not caring? Because a “town” can’t care or not care. Do you mean the people who are employed or are elected/appointed to govern? Them “not caring” is not my experience, because I have taken the time to know most of them. And, have you considered getting involved? Things do not improve because there are so few people who will serve. Thank you for reading.

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