Logan Layden is a native of McAlester, Oklahoma. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2009 and spent three years as a state capitol reporter and local host of All Things Considered for NPR member station KGOU in Norman.
Construction at the site of Broken Arrow's new water treatment plant in December 2012.
Every four years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency releases an analysis of how much federal money states will need to complete water projects to provide clean drinking water over the next 20 years.
The nation’s drinking water utilities need $384.2 billion in infrastructure investments over the next 20 years for thousands of miles of pipe, as well as thousands of treatment plants, storage tanks, and other key assets to ensure the public health, security, and economic well-being of our cities, towns, and communities.
Oklahoma needs about $6.5 billion in federal funding, similar to most surrounding states, except Texas, whose size and population contributes to it’s nearly $44 billion need.
A man on top of a house surveying tornado damage in Moore, Okla..
Following a major disaster like the Moore tornado on May 20th, news reporters want answers, and they don’t want to wait.
How many people were killed? How many injured? Those questions can usually be addressed fairly accurately. But when it comes to figuring the cost of the storm, Oklahoma’s Insurance Department has provided estimates ranging from $500 million to $5 billion.
StateImpact has been looking into how exactly these numbers are calculated, and why they’re so inexact.
The claims that have already been filed represent insured losses of at least $85 million. The tornadoes damaged 3,937 structures in the state, destroying 1,248 structures, the Oklahoma Department Emergency Management said.
While the drought continues to ease in eastern portions of the state, it’s still raging in much of western Oklahoma, where the state’s wheat harvest is taking a hit.
The Oklahoma Grain and Feed Association recently released its estimate of this year’s wheat crop, which Oklahoma Farm Report summed up with one word: “dismal.”
All totaled, Oklahoma producers are expected to harvest 85,583,000 bushels of wheat this year. That’s a 45 percent drop from last year’s harvest of 154.8 million bushels.
That’s a big drop, and the drought is partially to blame. But hail, high winds, and even the timing of recent rains contribute. Last year’s bumper harvest started in early May. The Oklahoman’s Jennifer Palmer reports on why the 2013 harvest is only just now getting underway:
Tornado victims wait in line to apply for FEMA assistance Wednesday in Moore, Okla.
An army of insurance adjusters from across the country started to descend on Moore less than 24 hours after Monday’s storm, and by Wednesday morning, a long line of them had formed outside the First Baptist Church.
Many were already in the area because of hail and tornados from earlier storms, and now they’re in destroyed neighborhoods assessing damage house by house.
FEMA is on the ground in Moore as well, helping people fill out the proper paperwork to start the process of receiving federal financial aid and assistance. The earlier insurance claims and eligibility forms are filled out, the more quickly the money will come.
But insurance adjusters and FEMA workers are just facilitators. And they can’t fully do their jobs until victims do theirs.
The Vendome Well at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Sulphur, Okla.
The State of Oklahoma and the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations have been negotiating for more than a year over who controls the water across a large area of southeast Oklahoma.
Four stays have been issued in the case — the last in mid-February — and it looks like both sides still need more time to come to an agreement.
There’s no word on how negotiations are progressing, or if any progress is being made. The Oklahoma Attorney General’s office isn’t saying much. Spokeswoman Diane Clay would only tell StateImpact “the parties expect the stay to be extended.”
At issue is whether the state or tribal governments control water across 22 southeastern Oklahoma counties. The suit was first filed in 2011 after Oklahoma City attempted to purchase more water storage rights in Sardis Lake for future municipal use.
The Choctaw and Chickasaw nations base their claim on the 1830 Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, but the state has been determining water rights since 1907.
Barney Hillerman Collection / Oklahoma Historical Society
An arial view of the Belle Isle Power Plant in Oklahoma City taken around the time a gas turbine was installed there in 1949.
In a broadcast story last week, StateImpact talked about how Oklahoma relies heavily on six major coal-fired power plants and the Wyoming coal that’s needed to run them — despite sitting on one of the largest supplies of natural gas in the country.
We wanted to find out what explains this paradox. So we did some research and called some power companies.