Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: May 13, 2009
Sen. Jim Wilson and Rep. Jerry Ellis express concerns about protecting
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
“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
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