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From the Director

From the Director is a column published in the agency's quarterly newsletter, the Oklahoma Water News. The column provides the OWRB Executive Director an opportunity to share a unique viewpoint on pertinent state water issues and discuss various OWRB activities and events.

2nd Quarter 2017

Much needed rainfall on the last day of June brought relief to parts of the state that had been suffering from rainfall totals well below normal for that time of year. The return of drought last spring serves as a reminder to Oklahoma communities that now is the time to have a drought plan in place!

I attended the Western States Water Council in Nebraska City in April, where I presented details of our tribal settlement as an example of cooperation, compromise, and inclusion with a low price tag. This was a great opportunity to meet with water leaders from other states to exchange ideas about improving drought resiliency through partnerships and planning at the federal, state, and local levels.

We commemorated the 22nd anniversary of the Murrah Building bombing with our annual ribbon tree service on April19th, and many of our staff participated in the memorial marathon on April 30th. Congratulations to all who made the run and supported our teams!

In late April, I met with all members of our congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., to discuss our agency functions, the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan (OCWP) and its priority recommendations, and other funding and appropriations priorities. Also while there, I attended the Interstate Council on Water Policy (ICWP) board meeting and met with leaders from the USGS, USACE, and NOAA to discuss their strategic priorities and budgets while emphasizing the OWRB’s priorities and support.

As noted in our featured article, the Produced Water Working Group (PWWG) finalized and published its recommendations report in April. This report has been very well received and we expect work to continue on these important projects that will help the energy industry meet our Water for 2060 goals of finding ways to use no more fresh water in 2060 than was used in 2010.

We welcomed our new Board members Robert Stallings and Robert Melton at the May Board meeting. We are very excited to work with them, as they both bring a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience to our Board. We also celebrated the successes of our departing Board members, Marilyn Feaver and Ed Fite. Both of these dedicated members made numerous contributions were incredibly supportive to our Board and agency staff in meeting our mission. We are very grateful for all they have helped us accomplish, and they will be missed.

On May 12, the Bureau of Reclamation announced $23.6 million in water reclamation and reuse projects and studies, including three in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma projects include a feasibility study of potential impacts of selected produced water management and reuse scenarios, the City of Ada reuse feasibility study, and the City of Bartlesville feasibility study to augment their water supply with reclaimed water. We look forward to assisting with these important projects that will serve as examples for moving forward on our Water for 2060 goals.

On June 7, I spoke at the 30th Anniversary of the Sovereignty Symposium, focusing on how the settlement helps us advance in implementation of the OCWP and Water for 2060 goals. It was a great opportunity to share how this cooperation promotes conservation, efficiency, planning, and infrastructure investment while protecting recreation, fish & wildlife, and other nonconsumptive interests.

We congratulate Ford Drummond, elected for another term as Chairman in June, and look forward to working closer with him and our other officers, Jason Hitch (Vice Chairman) and Stephen Allen (Secretary), on the upcoming issues.

This year’s Oklahoma Governor’s Water Conference will be held at the Embassy Suites in Norman on October 31 - November 1. During the luncheon on October 31, we will be celebrating the OWRB’s 60th Anniversary! All former OWRB employees are invited to join us. If you are not registering for the conference and would like to attend, please RSVP to Mary Schooley or Mary Nell Brueggen at (405) 530-8800.

1st Quarter 2017

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. As we look back at the remarkable progress our state has made in managing and planning for water resource needs, we can take pride in the collective leadership of so many who have contributed to furthering our mission of securing our safety, economy, and quality of life. As we celebrate this milestone, I look forward to advancing our important mission by continuing our history of providing relevant science to inform decisions, low-cost infrastructure financing, and expert service to our citizens in the years ahead.

Another legislative session is underway and I want to thank the 30 exhibitor organizations, legislators, and state officials that made this year’s Oklahoma Water Appreciation Day at the Capitol a success. Several bills spurred by discussions by the produced water working group to facilitate use of produced water are making their way through the process, particularly regarding water ownership and state permitting authority. The group’s March meeting was well attended by experts from the energy industry, water use sectors, treatment technology companies, researchers, and the press, and next steps for research partnerships were discussed.

With the devastating wildfires that ravaged northeast Oklahoma and its neighboring states in March, we are reminded of the importance of water for our agricultural community. Just a few months of below normal rainfall allowed the fires to spread quickly across the landscape, tragically costing seven lives and resulting in severe losses of livestock, pastures, hay, fences, and facilities totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.

As regional groups around the state are working together to plan for their long-term water needs, we continue to focus on implementation of the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan and core statutory programs to expand water sources, financing options, and knowledge of water quality and quantity trends. In this issue we highlight the Groundwater Monitoring and Assessment Program (GMAP), which was initiated in 2013 as a priority recommendation of the plan. GMAP provides important data and analysis for use by local interests in developing and protecting Oklahoma’s groundwater resources. Reports and mapping products are available on our website.

On behalf of the board and staff I am pleased to welcome new board member Charles Darby, who will represent recreational water use in OWRB Region 9. He replaces veteran Board member Richard Sevenoaks, who served for almost 20 years. Richard will be missed for his knowledge and active leadership.

Lastly, I am extremely proud to announce that the OWRB was awarded the Certified Healthy Business title, once again, for employees’ actions to stay active and healthy by engaging in various running events, the Community Supported Agriculture program, state sponsored sport leagues and other healthy activities.

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