The Norman Transcript

February 16, 2012

Tribes want order denying water rights

By Ken Miller
The Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — Two Indian tribes have asked a federal judge to declare that the state of Oklahoma and its capital city have no jurisdiction over water in southeastern Oklahoma and, therefore, have no right to transport it.

Four days after Attorney General Scott Pruitt asked the state Supreme Court to address a dispute over water rights, the Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes were back in U.S. District Court asking that a judge settle part of their federal lawsuit without extended proceedings.

The request for partial summary judgment asks that a judge declare the tribes hold regulatory authority over water in southeastern Oklahoma under an 1830 treaty. The tribes also want an order that says their water rights pre-empt state law.

Southeastern Oklahoma waters include Sardis Lake, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers creation that has provided Oklahoma City and other central Oklahoma communities with water for about 50 years.