Oklahoma Water Resources Board the Water Agency

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 his unique viewpoint on pertinent state water issues and discuss various OWRB activities and events.


1st Quarter, 2016

The last five months have proven once again Oklahoma's susceptibility to drought and its disparaging impacts. We’ve quickly jumped from the end of the wettest year on record to the return of drought conditions across more than one-third of the state, and then back to wet conditions in many places. It is a stark reminder that the devastation of Oklahoma’s 2010-2015 drought still haunts us, and that our state’s precipitation history is littered with similar swings between extremely wet and dry conditions.

The good news is the OWRB and our partners continue to develop water management practices and tools to allow Oklahoma’s water users to break that cycle. In fact, I’m pleased to report that state legislation passed this spring will provide additional drought-proofing ammunition through the establishment of aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) projects in Oklahoma. SB1219, authored by Senator Eddie Fields and Representative John Pfeiffer, authorizes the OWRB and Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) to establish a process for citizens or communities to construct ASR projects.

The 2012 Update of the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan includes a feasibility study of potential ASR sites within Oklahoma. However, it is evident that if we are to join several other western states that already employ ASR projects for drought management, it is imperative to invite all stakeholders to get involved through our rulemaking process. During the recent 5-year drought and with the increased focus Water for 2060 has placed on innovative water management, ASR likely will be an important factor in helping us secure water for decades to come in many places throughout Oklahoma.

Speaking of Water for 2060, I’m also proud to report that this important initiative was highlighted in March at the White House Water Summit as a part of World Water Day. I had the honor of attending the White House ceremony, which highlighted Oklahoma’s Water for 2060 initiative as one of several unique drought resiliency measures from across the U.S. Our Water for 2060 work was also recently expanded by Governor Fallin to include a new working group to review opportunities and challenges associated with recycling oil and gas produced water for beneficial reuse.

Finally, I'd like to thank and congratulate all the OWRB employees participating in yet another successful Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. It is a special time of remembrance at the OWRB each April as we honor our two fallen colleagues, and lift up all those who were tragically impacted. I am always proud and astounded by the number of current and former OWRB staffers that participate in the various races each year.



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