Assistant Republican Floor Leader
Senator Owen Laughlin
State Capitol Room 529-B
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
For Immediate Release: May 18,
Senate Republican Rural Caucus Pledges Support for Southwest
OK Water Project
Rural Republican state senators Wednesday pledged
their support for a proposed $150,000 state appropriation to provide
vital assistance to increase the delivery of water to southwest
Oklahoma’s Lugert-Altus Irrigation District.
Laughlin, R-Woodward, the chairman of the Senate Republican
Rural Caucus, said the appropriation to the Oklahoma Water Resources
Board would be earmarked for vitally important projects to stretch
water supplies in the region.
“These funds are a direct result of the past, present, and
future commitment of the Water Resources Board and members of the
Lugert-Altus Irrigation District to improve the efficiency of their
water delivery system,” Laughlin stated.
“Ensuring an adequate water supply for the future is key
to attracting new jobs and industry to southwest Oklahoma,”
stated Sen. Don
“Agriculture in much of southwest Oklahoma depends heavily
on the Lugert-Altus Irrigation District for its water supply, making
this issue of vital interest to rural senators,” stated Sen.
Since the late 1940s, when the Bureau of Reclamation completed
construction of Lugert-Altus Reservoir and its associated 45,000-acre
irrigation region, the District has been an invaluable component
of Oklahoma’s agricultural economy.
Lugert-Altus Reservoir provides water supply for more than one-half
of the state’s cotton crop. In a typical year, more than 100,000
bales of cotton worth $35 million dollars are produced, generating
a total economic impact of $220 million to Jackson County alone.
More than 300 miles of canals and lateral water lines tap Lugert-Altus
Reservoir, which supply more than 43 billion gallons of water each
year. In some years, however, this crop watering causes stress on
the lake, dropping the reservoir’s level to one-third or less
of its capacity. Low lake levels also influence recreation and other
uses at the reservoir, which is home to a popular state resort and
park at scenic Quartz Mountain.
Tom Buchanan, the manager of the Lugert-Altus Irrigation District,
has arranged for several current and past water supply studies conducted
by the OWRB and Bureau of Reclamation to evaluate multiple options
through which the District could both conserve and increase its
water supply. Results of a Bureau appraisal study on water resource
problems and needs confronting Lugert-Altus Irrigation District,
released in April, identified the following options to increase
• Reuse of municipal wastewater for irrigation;
• Reservoir construction above Lugert-Altus Reservoir for
sediment control and additional capacity;
• Downstream reservoir construction;
• Improvements in the hydraulic connection (pool at Lugert-Altus
• Improving system controls that drive irrigation deliveries;
• Determining the feasibility of chloride (salt) control on
the Elm Fork River as an additional source of water supply.
“Members of the Senate Republican Rural Caucus are proud
to join the efforts of Sen. Kerr and Rep. Braddock on this issue.
It is important for rural legislators in both parties to stand up
for rural Oklahoma,” said Laughlin.
More than a third of the state Senate’s 22 Republicans represent
predominantly rural districts and are members of the Senate Republican
Leadership Assistant's Office- (405) 521-5654