Arbuckle Simpson aquifer lawsuit spurs debate

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SULPHUR, OK--Officials with the Chickasaw National Recreation Area say three years of drought and a low Arbuckle Simpson aquifer have forced them to close all but one of their swimming areas.

"Travertine creek is fed by two springs: Buffalo and Antelope springs, which happen to be at the top of the Simpson Arbuckle Aquifer," Dan Winings, a park ranger with the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, said, "and when the aquifer drops down those springs are the first thing to dry up."

This past June, the state of Oklahoma implemented the Arbuckle Simpson Maximum Annual Yield, capping the amount of water that can be taken from the aquifer. The Oklahoma Farm Bureau has filed a lawsuit in response.

"Our issue's always been for the private property values," John Collison, VP of Public Policy for the Farm Bureau explains, "In the state of Oklahoma ground water is a private property right and when the state has said that 'we are going to take this certain amount of water without any compensation' that is an issue for us."

During a meeting in Ardmore last Friday, some citizens voiced opposition to the Farm Bureau's lawsuit. By eliminating the maximum annual yield on the aquifer, those citizens believe the effects of the drought would get worse.

"I would tell you that ground water in oklahoma is a private property right and until that changes the farm bureau will always stand at the directive of our members to protect their own private property," Collison said.

Officials at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area are just hopeful the drought ends soon.

"That would reduce the pressure on the amount of water being taken out of the aquifer," said Winings, "therefore, it wouldn't drain as quickly and it would allow the springs to flow longer."