Drought and Conservation Driving Water Contamination in Duncan

Duncan Public Works Director Scott Vaughn

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Duncan Public Works Director Scott Vaughn

Duncan’s water supplies are already in bad shape because of the drought. Lake Waurika — Duncan’s main water source — is only about 32 percent full, and city officials are beginning to look toward groundwater as a lake levels continue to drop.

And if it weren’t enough for water supplies to be stretched to their limits, now the water itself is contaminated. Continue Reading

“Property Rights Group Tells Legislators Oklahoma Wind Farm Tax Credits Are Unsustainable”

Millions in tax subsidies to wind power companies could grow to become “unsustainable,” a property rights group told legislators last week.

Using Oklahoma Tax Commission records, Rick Mosier, of the Oklahoma Property Rights Association, discussed the growth of Oklahoma zero-emission tax credits. These are awarded to wind power companies based on how much electricity they generate. More than $40 million of these credits were awarded in 2012. Beginning this year, qualifying companies can get 85 percent of the credit in a check from the state even if they have no tax liability.

Read more at: newsok.com

Uncertainty Looms Over Walnut Creek’s Somber Final Weekend As A State Park

Harold and Amy Coulter with their granddaughter at Walnut Creek State Park in August 2014.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Harold and Amy Coulter with their granddaughter at Walnut Creek State Park in August 2014.

Walnut Creek State Park closed indefinitely last weekend, the latest in a series of park closures that started in 2011, and a victim of budget priorities and changing attitudes at the department of tourism. StateImpact traveled to the banks of Keystone Lake to visit with some of Walnut Creek’s last campers as a state park, and the people whose livelihoods are now in danger.

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“Regulators Consider Drilling Rule Changes in Oklahoma”

Oklahoma regulators are updating “forced pooling” rules — which allows wells to be drilled if most, but not all, mineral interest owners agree. “Much of the controversy centers on what should happen when a company wants to drill a horizontal well in an area with an existing vertical well,” The Oklahoman’s Adam Wilmoth reports.

“These issues are more complicated than ever,” Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy said. “The framework of the pooling laws has existed for many years. I don’t think that framework was designed for the world we’re living in now. When the pooling process was put in place, it was not put in place for this.” Owners of the existing vertical wells expressed concern about how their wells should be valued and about how much communication they should have with the applicants before a forced pooling action is taken.

Read more at: newsok.com

Small Oklahoma Town Hunts For More Water As Cleveland Lake Silts In

Cleveland, Oklahoma — population 3,200 — relies on a small reservoir southwest of the city for its water, despite being located on the banks of the Arkansas River.

And a water crisis is brewing there. But the problem can’t be blamed oncrumbling pipelines, an obsolete treatment plant, or drought — though more rain is needed. The problem is silt. The Cleveland Reservoir is nearly 80 years old.

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Confusion Fueling Oklahoma Outcry Over EPA’s ‘Waters of the United States’ Rule

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Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Mason Bolay climbs into the cab of a tractor on his family's farm near Perry, Okla.

Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine calls it a power grab by an imperial president. U.S. Representative Frank Lucas says it would trigger an onslaught of additional red tape for famers and ranchers in Oklahoma.

That kind of hyperbole is expected anytime President Barack Obama’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does, well, anything. But the changes being proposed to the way bodies of water are classified are confusing.

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State Officials: Oklahoma Needs Oil Industry’s Help to Meet Water Goals


Daniel Foster / Flickr

Insufficient rains and increasing demand put enormous pressure on Oklahoma’s water resources both on the surface and underground. But it’s also hard to overstate the role evaporation plays in the drought.

The oil and gas industry has been part of the problem, storing tens of millions of gallons of water needed for the hydraulic fracturing process in large, open pits, leaving it to be ravaged by evaporation until the water is needed.

As The Oklahoman‘s Adam Wilmoth reports, the Oklahoma Water Resources Board’s J.D. Strong says the industry has to change its ways “to help the state meet its Water for 2060 goal of using no more water in 2060 as was used in 2012.” Continue Reading

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