Feds Fund Study of Future Water Options for Drought-Stricken Region of Oklahoma
The drought in portions of southwestern Oklahoma has been raging for four years now, making the idea of water supplies running dry over the next few years a real possibility. Careful infrastructure planning and a commitment to conservation will clearly be necessary if hotter, drier climate forecasts hold true.
The Oklahoma Water Resources Board has identified a number of water basins as ‘hot spots‘ — areas of the state facing the biggest water supply challenges — for study, including areas of southwestern Oklahoma, and in 2012 partnered with the U.S. Department of the Interior for an ongoing study of the Upper Washita River Basin.
And on Tuesday, the OWRB approved a similar partnership with Interior’s Office of Reclamation to study the Upper Red River Basin. $250,000 in federal money came for the Upper Washita study, which, as eCapitol’s Ben Luschen reports, is a fraction of what the Red River study will cost:
The study, which has an estimated cost of approximately $1.4 million, will help Oklahoma’s southwest corner find ways to best conserve and manage the water they draw from the Upper Red River Basin.Southwest Oklahoma, Planning and Management Division Chief Julie Cunningham said, has been the region most affected by recent drought conditions in the state.Cunningham said the study will help gather information needed to react to the lack of rain and put together options the region has moving forward.“You have to know how much water you have to know how much water you can use,” she said.