The Norman Transcript

State/Region

January 5, 2013

Supreme Court to hear Oklahoma water rights case

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said the state will continue its fight “to protect its natural resources.”

The water district wants to purchase more than 460,000 acre-feet of water — about 150 billion gallons — from Oklahoma tributaries of the Red River that separates Oklahoma and Texas, including Cache Creek, Beaver Creek and the Kiamichi River.

District officials maintain that Oklahoma has more than 10 times the water it needs to meet its own needs and the district wants only about 6 percent of water flowing into the Red River — water that eventually flows into the Gulf of Mexico. They say drawing water directly from the river is not financially feasible because of salinity issues.

District officials have said it would pay between $15 million and $60 million a year to transport Oklahoma water to North Texas, money they say could be used to build reservoirs and pipelines to deliver water to parched western Oklahoma.

But attorneys for the state have maintained that the water issue should be decided by the Red River Compact Commission, which was created by Congress in 1980 to apportion water that flows along the Red River and its tributaries.

Legislation adopted by the Legislature in 2009 said no out-of-state water permit can prevent Oklahoma from meeting its obligations under interstate compacts with other states. It also requires the Water Resources Board to consider in-state water shortages or needs when considering applications for out-of-state water sales.

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