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Supreme Court to Hear Oklahoma/Texas Water Case

Filed by KOSU News in State Impact.
January 5, 2013

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to rule on Tarrant Regional Water District v. Herrmann. In January 2007, the north Texas water district sued Oklahoma in an effort to secure more than 130 billion gallons of water from basins north of the Red River.

SCOTUSblog reports:

… the growing metro complex of Fort Worth, Texas, contends that it needs to dip into the Oklahoma flow of the Red River to fulfill its guaranteed equal share under the Red River Compact.

Oklahoma insists that Texas has no right to reach across the two states’ border to help fulfill its water needs.

UPDATE: The state’s water authority, the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, referred questions to the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office. A spokeswoman for that office, Diane Clay, declined to comment, but emailed a statement from state Attorney General Scott Pruitt:

“We successfully defended Oklahoma’s right to protect its natural resources at the district court and circuit court of appeals, and we will continue that fight at the Supreme Court.”

At the core of the case is the 1980 Red River Compact, an agreement signed by Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas that gives each state an “equitable apportionment” of water from the river and its tributaries.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram sums up the dispute:

The water district contends that the Oklahoma Legislature violated the compact by passing a 2009 bill that said Oklahoma’s water would not be available to other states without the Legislature’s approval.

In September 2012, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Texas’ challenge. Some thought the ruling would end Texas’ four-year attempt to tap Oklahoma’s water.

Many people expect the final Supreme Court ruling will have a profound impacts on intrastate water compacts nationwide.



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