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Lawmakers to Consider State Water Needs

Filed by Michael Cross in Feature, Local News, News, Politics.
August 3, 2011

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State legislative leaders held a press conference Wednesday to announce the formation of a 16-member committee to look at the future of water in Oklahoma.

State leaders chose the hottest day of the year to unveil their water study panel.

The 16 member committee will have lawmakers from both chambers and political parties as well as urban and rural legislators from different parts of the state.

One of the major decisions facing lawmakers in the coming year deals with the sale of water to Texas.

Speaker of the House Kris Steele says it’s too soon to formulate an opinion about it, but selling Oklahoma water could be part of the recommendations made to lawmakers next session.

“This committee has an enormous task in front of it, and I suspect that a policy regarding the sale of water recommendations for the legislature to consider ultimately will be up to the entire body.”

But, one of the six Democrats to be on the committee wasn’t shy about addressing his opposition to water sales.

Southeast Oklahoma Senator Jerry Ellis says he has major concerns with the idea of selling water to Texas.

“When you pull this water out and put into fresh pipe to cross the Red River and you don’t let it go into the Red River, you’re going to change the quality and quantity of water that’s in the Red River and you’re going to be in a federal courthouse in Arkansas and Louisiana.”

All sides agree the recent drought and heat show the need to look into infrastructure, tribal needs and long-term water plans.

Part of the committee’s job will be looking over the $6.5 million dollar study by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board which is coming out in October.

The first meeting of the Joint-Water Committee will be on August 17th in the House Chamber.

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