The crippling five-year drought Oklahoma finally broke out of in 2015 is still fresh in the memory of the state’s water regulators, which is looking for ways the state can better withstand future dry spells. The Water Resources Board this week approved new rules to allow water to be stored underground, in aquifers.
State Representative Leslie Osborn is the new chair of the powerful House Appropriations and Budget Committee, an influential position that gives her bills extra weight. StateImpact talked to Osborn about legislation she’s pushing to increase mining fees, and to explore the sale of the Grand River Dam Authority.
With 95-percent of the state under drought conditions, Oklahoma has been issued its first ever national fire advisory from the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. The advisory lasts for two weeks — into mid-February — and warns, as The Associated Press’ Justin Juozapavicius reports, “the ingredients for a potentially disastrous fire outbreak are already in place.” Continue Reading
Before the Cherokee people were forced from their lands in the eastern U.S. along the Trail of Tears, the tribe grew varieties of crops now nearly lost. But at the Cherokee Nation Seed Bank in Tahlequah, Okla., a vital part of the tribe’s history is kept frozen.
Drought is back in Oklahoma. More than half the state now falls in the extreme drought category, and normally water-rich southeast Oklahoma is bearing the brunt of a very dry fall and winter.
The lakes and streams of southeast Oklahoma are vital to the area’s economy, and Broken Bow resident Charlette Hearne has made it her mission to stand in the way of attempts to move water out of her part of the state.
President Barack Obama on Friday signed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, which passed the U.S. Senate in the wee hours Saturday morning. The $10 billion federal bill directs money to Oklahoma to help fix and address multiple water-related problems and issues across the state.
The bill’s signing brings a formal conclusion to the years long dispute between the state and the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations over control of water in Sardis Lake and across southeast Oklahoma. Continue Reading
Oil prices are on the rebound, which should eventually generate revenue and help Oklahoma’s state budget situation. Still, another budget hole — that could be as large as $600 million — will likely have to be filled during the 2017 legislative session. One emerging idea that could put an extra billion dollars in state coffers: Selling the Grand River Dam Authority. Continue Reading
It’s been 10 years since the state of Oklahoma sold hundreds of acres at Texoma State Park to a private developer that never fulfilled its promise to build an elaborate lakeside resort. Now the Chickasaw Nation is stepping in to bring some economic activity back to the area.
J.D. Strong has been an influential leader in Oklahoma water issues for many years, and served as Executive Director of the state water regulator since 2010. Earlier this year he left the Water Resources Board to head the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
StateImpact talked to Strong in his new office to talk about the water challenges that remain and the issues facing wildlife conservation that are now his problem.