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Texas sues Oklahoma over water supply

By: Sara Humphrey Email
By: Sara Humphrey Email

ARDMORE, OK - The saying, "Everything is bigger in Texas," is not always true, at least not when it comes to the state's water supply.

Oklahoma State Representative Pat Ownbey said Texas sued to get access to Oklahoma's water because demand in the Lone Star state is on the rise.

"Texas has tried to force our hand basically saying that the court is going to make that decision for us if we dont make it ourselves but at this point the court has ruled in our favor about every time," Ownbey said.

Earlier this month, a federal appeals court dismissed a lawsuit seeking to authorize the sale of southeastern Oklahoma water to a north Texas water district.

The lawsuit tried to force the Oklahoma Water Board to give the district access to surface and stream water in southeastern Oklahoma. Ownbey said the debate shows the importance of water in the state.

"Texas is going to have to do a better job of managing their water, whether it is building more lakes," Ownbey said.

Southern Oklahoma does not exactly have water to spare. Aquifer levels are low and they provide about fifty percent of residents' drinking water.

Amy Ford is the President of the Citizens for the Protection of the Arbuckle Simpson Aquifer. She said during the drought, Oklahoma has taken steps to conserve and Texas should be doing the same.

The Dallas/Fort Worth area has the biggest demand for the water in Texas, both Ownbey and Ford agree their deficit may have come from population growth.

"Oklahoma needs to take care of Oklahoma first and make sure that our needs are met, so it doesn't look like there is an access that texas will have the opportunity to take our water," Ford said.

Many southern Oklahoma lawmakers oppose water sales but Ownbey said the money would allow Oklahoma to build more water infrastructure.

"Without water, what do you have?" Ownbey said. "There are towns that will literally dry up."

A Texas water representatvive could not be reached for a comment on the lawsuit.

Log on to www.owrb.ok.gov/ for more information about water conservation.


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