In a commentary piece from NonDoc, Walters, a Democrat who served from 1991-1995, says 30 billion gallons of unused water flows into the Red River each day, and capturing and selling just a small portion of it could end the state’s financial problems and make southeast Oklahoma’s economy boom.
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.
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.
Oklahoma officials and the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations spent 5 years hammering out a deal to share control of water across southeast Oklahoma, but coming to an agreement isn’t the end of the process.
After five years of confidential negotiations, the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations have reached an agreement with the State of Oklahoma over water in southeast Oklahoma. The deal has been praised by state leaders as a historic accord that ends the tribes’ lawsuit that blocked Oklahoma City’s plan to pump water out of the region. But the deal still has to be sold to tribe members in that part of the state.
The deal, announced Thursday, clears a path for Oklahoma City to pump water out of Sardis Lake — a plan city officials say is essential to meeting the metropolitan area’s long-term water needs — which the tribes blocked with a 2011 lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.
Southeast Oklahoma has many of the state’s largest lakes and rivers and most of the state’s water, but no one from the area serves on the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, the state’s water regulator. A 2013 law requires the area to have representation. But, so far, that hasn’t happened.
Despite losing their homeland, and being pushed aside to build southeastern Oklahoma’s lakes, a connection has developed between the water and the people here.
Oklahoma’s lakes drive millions of dollars of tourism to otherwise impoverished parts of the state. But the local economy around Sardis Lake is missing out.