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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

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For Immediate Release: May 13, 2009

Sen. Jim Wilson and Rep. Jerry Ellis express concerns about protecting Oklahoma water.
Sen. Jim Wilson and Rep. Jerry Ellis express concerns about protecting Oklahoma water.

Lawmakers Share Concerns over Possible Sale of
Oklahoma Water to Texas

The Water Resources Board should not have sole authority in determining whether Oklahoma water should be sold to Texas. That’s according state lawmakers concerned about a proposal expected to come before the legislature in the final days of the session.

“Attorneys for the Water Resources Board claim we’ll be on the losing end in federal court should our water moratorium continue. A federal court has already struck down a similar moratorium in New Mexico. The agency is supporting language that would remove the legislature from the process allowing them to decide whether or not to sell our water,” said Sen. Jim Wilson, D-Tahlequah.

The proposed measure calls for a review by the Water Resources Board at least every ten years after the issuance of a permit to sell water. It also allows the Board to make a subjective judgment as to the availability of water for sale. Wilson said there should be more objective standards.

“The problem with that is once we’ve committed to sell the water, we’re locked in,” Wilson said. “This proposed legislation is supposed to help Oklahoma protect our water rights in federal court, but there’s a lot of financial pressure from entities in our own state who want these sales to go through without regard to Oklahoma’s future water needs.”

When the issue was first debated during the Keating administration, the amount of compensation offered for the sale of water to Texas was deemed far too low. Lawmakers opposing the sale argued the compensation was simply not enough to justify an agreement with Texas.

Senator Wilson, along with Senators Jerry Ellis, Richard Lerblance and others are instead proposing language that will discourage potential purchasers. One possibility may be a gross receipt tax on water sales.

“We simply do not want Oklahoma to get locked into an agreement without knowing what the long-term effect on our water supplies will be,” Wilson said.

For more information contact:
Sen. Wilson's Office - 405-521-5574

Inon: Horizontal Blue Band

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