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Securing Oklahoma's Water Future A Complex Balancing Act

Background

In 1962, Oklahoma U.S. Senator Robert S. Kerr proclaimed water to be “our state’s most precious resource.”

Not oil, not gas, not farmland. Water.

And his generation built some of the finest water infrastructure in the country.

But now that impressive infrastructure is crumbling.

When Kerr made his comments, Oklahoma had recently come out of the worst drought on record. Now, Oklahoma faces a drought of similar proportions, but with demand far greater than what Kerr could have foreseen.

How to balance the needs of a growing population with the importance of tourism to local economies where water is plentiful will be one of the biggest issues facing the state over the next half-century.

Highlight some of the points of conflict.

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Former Governor Walters: Don’t Waste Oklahoma’s Water, Sell It To Texas

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.

Rep. Leslie Osborn On GRDA: Should We Be In The Electric Utility Business?

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.

A Conversation With Oklahoma’s Long-Time Water Boss

Former Oklahoma Water Resources Board Executive Director and new Department of Wildlife Conservation Director J.D. Strong.

J.D. Strong has been an important player 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.

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