The Norman Transcript

Government

May 14, 2013

Water district still struggling to progress

NORMAN — The Cleveland County Rural Water Board is still wading through bureaucratic red tape, hoping to meet target deadlines required to keep some of the grants expected to fund the infrastructure and drilling costs of the new district.

It’s been a 12-year-long battle, and even with all of the work completed so far, it may not be enough.

Water district vice chair Richard Murnan and chair Daryl Covey reported to county commissioners Monday.

BOCC Chair Rod Cleveland said he has a meeting today to talk to representatives of either Capital Assets or the Oklahoma Water Resources Board in hopes of getting a clearer picture of who has water rights.

At this time, Lexington prison facilities and the city of Lexington need a water well. The rural district hopes to drill on land owned by the Department of Corrections in the Lexington area. Capital Assets is managing DOC property right now, leaving it unclear which entity needs to sign off on water rights and what red tape is involved.

“We’re incurring a lot of time and expense, and that concerns me,” Assistant District Attorney Jim Robertson said.

“We have a tentative purchase agreement,” Covey said.

But Covey wouldn’t name who he has spoken with in state government.

The rural water district also has to comply with requirements from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Meanwhile, at least two attorneys are working on the purchase contracts, title opinions, easements and interfacing with state agencies trying to move the project forward.

Covey said there is precedent. The corrections facility at Quartz Mountain and a rural water district in Greer County have a similar agreement to one Cleveland County Rural District 1 is seeking with DOC at Lexington. Quartz Mountain Rural Water Authority is the rural entity in that agreement.

“We modeled ours after that,” Covey said.

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