Oklahoma

Economy, Energy, Natural Resources: Policy to People

Are The Recent Water Resources Board Changes Fair To Oklahoma’s Big Cities?

The makeup of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board will change as current members’ terms end over the next few years. A new law passed in 2013 requires that each board member come from a specific region of the state.

The idea is for the rural, agriculture-heavy regions of the state — where the majority of Oklahoma’s water is located — to have an equal voice in the regulation planning OWRB does.

That sounds equitable, but the Tulsa World’s Wayne Green argues the new OWRB membership rules are unfair to urban Oklahoma:

One board member will come from Oklahoma County with an estimated 2012 population of more than 741,000 people.

Equal weight on the board will be held by a member from Cimarron, Texas or Beaver counties – the Panhandle – with a total population of less than 30,000.

In other words, as far as future state water policy is concerned, the interests of one Oklahoma City resident matters about 1/25th as much as those of a Guymon resident.

Green doesn’t find the argument that rural areas should have more say because they use more water per capita very convincing either:

That’s an interesting argument. If Tulsans want more authority on the issue in the future, they might want to all set their taps running nonstop and start triple flushing their toilets.

Previously, the governor appointed one OWRB member for each of the state’s congressional districts, and four at-large members, for seven-year terms. Green reports those at-large seats “tend to go to people from urban areas.”


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