Environment, Education, Energy: Policy to People

Fifth Stay Expected as State and Tribal Governments’ Water Lawsuit Continues

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

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.

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