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October 17, 2011

Water Board Approves Statewide Water Plan

At its monthly meeting on Monday, the Oklahoma Water Resources Board unanimously approved the 2012 Update of the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan (OCWP).

The vote of the nine members took place in advance of the OCWP's formal roll-out at the Oklahoma Governor's Water Conference, scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Norman.

“This plan is the result of five years of dedicated work by Water Board staff, numerous state and federal partners, and stakeholders and countless other Oklahomans in laying the crucial groundwork for Oklahoma’s water future,” says OWRB Chairman Linda Lambert. “Recognizing the substantial role that water plays in our everyday lives and in our state’s economic sustainability, this plan represents a firm foundation upon which we can build a lasting legacy for Oklahoma.”

The 2012 OCWP Update, officially comprised of the Executive Report and 13 Watershed Planning Region reports, contains more than 3,500 pages of technical and policy assessment. In addition to dozens of technical studies, the OCWP’s unprecedented public participation phase involved almost 100 public meetings to frame the state’s most pressing water problems and develop recommendations to address them.

“The Board’s vote today is a huge milestone for Oklahoma as we mark the end of one chapter and the beginning of another to implement what I believe is the most thorough and well-vetted state water plan in the nation,” adds OWRB Executive Director J. D. Strong. “With the extensive planning effort now behind us, we look forward to working with the Governor, Legislature, and hundreds of partners that engaged in this process to develop programs and policies that will ensure a sound, stable, and reliable water future for generations of Oklahomans to come.”

The final 2012 OCWP Update is available on the OWRB’s website at www.owrb.ok.gov.


September 7, 2011

Court of Appeals Affirms Oklahoma’s Defense of Tarrant and Hugo Lawsuits

The U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled today in favor of Oklahoma’s arguments in the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) v. Herrmann et al. and City of Hugo v. Nichols et al. lawsuits filed against the Oklahoma Water Resources Board and its members aimed at securing water from southern Oklahoma for use by North Texas entities. Oklahoma won favorable decisions at the District Court level in November 2009 and April 2010, respectively. Today’s rulings result from TRWD’s and Hugo’s appeals of those lower court decisions.

In its Tarrant decision, the federal court upheld the lower court’s ruling that the case should be dismissed since the water being sought by Tarrant is already apportioned by the Red River Compact between Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. Permit applications filed by TRWD on the same day it filed the lawsuit in 2007 seek to divert more than 460,000 acre-feet (about 150 billion gallons) of water from tributaries to the Red River in southern Oklahoma. The lawsuit by the City of Hugo sought similar relief to allow the sale of 200,000 acre-feet (about 65 billion gallons) of water to Irving, Texas. In its Hugo decision, the federal court ruled that the plaintiffs lacked standing to file a lawsuit against an agency of the State of Oklahoma in the first place.

Both rulings in favor of Oklahoma, which could end four years of litigation, were precipitated by 2009 amendments to Oklahoma water laws clarifying that water compacted for use in Oklahoma was not available to other states without approval of the Oklahoma Legislature.

J. D. Strong, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, asserted that “the legislature’s enactment of House Bill 1483 in 2009 clarified that interstate compacts strengthen Oklahoma’s ability to control the use of its water by virtue of the fact that they are approved by Congress and by the respective state legislatures that are parties to the compacts. HB 1483 declared that no out-of-state water permit shall impair the State of Oklahoma’s ability to meet its obligations under such compacts.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin acknowledged that today’s decision was “yet another victory for the State of Oklahoma,” adding that the State would continue to vigorously defend the water to which it is entitled under the compact approved by all four states, including Texas. “Given the choice, it is always our preference to work with our neighboring states to resolve differences,” said Gov. Fallin. “In these cases, however, we were forced to defend our state laws, federal obligations, and precious water resources by parties that chose the more aggressive course of litigation.”


August 26, 2011

Water Board Solicits Final Public Comment on State Water Plan

Today the Oklahoma Water Resources Board released its final Public Discussion Draft of the 2012 Update of the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan (OCWP). Public comment and input on the long-awaited plan, which provides a blueprint for state water development, use and protection for at least the next 50 years, will be the subject of the Water Board’s monthly meeting scheduled for September 13 at 8:30 AM in Oklahoma City.

“While key components of the draft Water Plan have been available for public review since April, we’ve compiled findings and results, including suggested water policy recommendations, into a concise Executive Report that will be submitted to the Governor and Legislature by next February,” says J.D. Strong, OWRB Executive Director. “After five years of development, we’re very proud and excited to present what I believe to be the most well-vetted, detailed, and innovative state water plan in existence. Anybody who truly cares about Oklahoma’s invaluable water resources should review the Discussion Draft, become familiar with the many water challenges facing our state, and directly contribute to this blueprint for our state’s water future.”

Strong added that the Executive Report perfectly complements the 13 OCWP Watershed Planning Region Reports, released in April and May, which provide comprehensive details on each region’s current and future water use and suite of options to address water challenges. The OCWP Interim Draft was released last April. The OWRB is the state agency responsible for coordinating the update.

Citizens wishing to provide comment or feedback on the Discussion Draft should email waterplan@owrb.ok.gov, call the OWRB at 405-530-8800, or write or visit the agency at 3800 North Classen Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK, 73118. In order to provide the OWRB’s nine Board Members adequate time to review comments in advance of their September 13 meeting, written comments are encouraged and should be submitted no later than 12:00 PM on September 8. The public can provide verbal comments and suggestions at the September 13 meeting, as well, although time may be limited based upon the number of people interested in speaking.

To view the OCWP Public Discussion Draft, Watershed Planning Region Reports, and other technical background reports or to learn more about the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan, visit www.owrb.ok.gov/ocwp.


June 15, 2011

Water Resources Board Taps New Officers, First Woman Chair

At its monthly meeting yesterday, the Oklahoma Water Resources Board elected three new officers, including the first woman chairman in the agency’s 54-year history.

The incoming Chairman is Linda Lambert, an Oklahoma City businesswoman, who represents industrial water use. She is the President of LASSO Corporation (an oil and gas development investment corporation), President of ENERTREE, L.L.C., a Director of OGE Energy Corp., Director of InvesTrust, Chairman of the Board of Mercy Health Center, and past Vice Chairman of the Oklahoma City Public Schools Trust.

“I am honored to assume this responsibility to oversee the state’s vital water business, especially working with other Board members and agency staff to finalize the 2012 update of the Oklahoma 50-Year Comprehensive Water Plan and implement its many water policy initiatives,” says Lambert, who was appointed by Governor Brad Henry in March 2007. “I especially look forward to working closely with Speaker Steele, President Pro Tem Bingman, and other members of the new joint committee on water, which was announced yesterday to review the Water Plan and begin preparations for urgent and sustainable water legislation during next year’s session.”

According to J.D. Strong, Executive Director of the OWRB, the leadership and support of outgoing Board chairman Rudy Herrmann has been instrumental in both furthering the Water Plan and improving the agency’s overall water management strategy. “Rudy’s rare insight into often complex water issues has resulted in continued growth and refinement of our programs and mandates. I know Linda also brings her own unique viewpoint to the position so this strong leadership will remain consistent as water takes center stage on the political landscape in Oklahoma.”

Ford Drummond, a Bartlesville rancher, is the Board’s new Vice Chairman representing agricultural water interests. He is the owner and operator of a large family ranch in Osage County and a member of the BancFirst Corporation Board of Directors. Previously, he spent several years in Washington D.C. as a Congressional advisor and served as Legislative Counsel to the American Medical Association, where he worked on health care legislation and regulations, and as General Counsel for BMI-HealthPlans, a regional health insurance company.

Now serving as Secretary is Joe Taron, a retired dentist from Shawnee, who is the Board’s rural residential water use representative. Dr. Taron is a founding member of the Pottawatomie County Development Authority, where he served as chairman for 30 years. He received the Oklahoma Water Pioneer Award in 2004.

The nine Water Board members, appointed by the Governor, define policy and conduct the state’s water management and protection activities. They serve staggered seven-year terms and represent all geographic areas of the state and diverse groups of water users.


May 16, 2011

Draft State Water Plan to be Discussed at Meetings in Sulphur, Lawton and Oklahoma City

State water agency officials, along with policy and planning specialists, will be on hand May 24 in Sulphur, May 25 in Lawton, and May 26 in Oklahoma City to share early findings from the 2012 Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan (OCWP) Update.

The OCWP Lower Washita planning sessions will be held May 24 at the Murray County Fairgrounds in Sulphur, the Beaver-Cache Region meeting on May 25 at the Comanche County Fairgrounds (Prairie Building) in Lawton, and the Central Region meeting on May 26 at OSU-OKC (Student Center Conference Room, North/South) in Oklahoma City.

The meetings – the last of thirteen held statewide beginning last month – will be hosted by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB), the state agency responsible for coordinating the update, and Oklahoma Water Resources Research Institute (OWRRI), which was contracted to coordinate the OCWP public participation process.

At each meeting location, a technical session will be held from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. to share information on local water supply systems, infrastructure and related issues. A separate evening session, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m., will focus on proposed state water policy, specifically draft recommendations derived from the public, water user groups, and experts. The interim OCWP draft was officially released by the OWRB in early April for public review and comment. Completed drafts of OCWP Watershed Planning Region Reports, which detail current water use as well as future usage scenarios and options to address water issues, are also currently available on the OWRB’s website at www.owrb.ok.gov/ocwp; all of those reports will be available for review in advance of regional meetings.

According to J.D. Strong, OWRB Executive Director, OCWP technical reports are the first of their kind. "Collectively, the Watershed Planning Region Reports are an invaluable planning tool that will eventually benefit virtually every Oklahoman in establishing reliable and beneficial water supplies. Each report has been carefully designed to allow the water system manager, farmer, irrigator, industrial operator, business owner, and casual citizen to make intelligent and informed decisions concerning the use and sustainability of our most precious natural resource," he says.

The OWRB strongly encourages those planning to attend the meetings to review beforehand the draft report and associated documents, which present fifty-year projections of water use in the state’s planning regions, options to meet forecasted deficits in supply or related problems, and dozens of water policy recommendations developed by both Oklahoma citizens and stakeholders that will be submitted to the State Legislature upon the plan’s conclusion in February 2012. These regional feedback and implementation meetings are scheduled throughout the state in April and May as part of the final stage of the OCWP’s unprecedented public participation process.

In addition to providing citizens with an opportunity to comment on the recommended policy actions and technical water information contained in the draft OCWP documents and reports, the public will be encouraged to suggest the most practical methods to accomplish those initiatives. Both the afternoon technical session and evening water policy session will utilize an informal format that facilitates more engaging personal contact and information exchange between the public and staff of the OWRB, OWRRI and CDM, the OCWP’s lead engineering firm, who will be available to talk with citizens and answer specific questions about regional and state water concerns. Meetings are open to citizens from any region of the state. The public may also submit comments through the OWRRI’s website at http://okwaterplan.info, email at waterplan@okstate.edu, or by calling 405-744-9994.

The full OCWP regional meeting schedule: April 19, Beaver; April 26, Quartz Mountain; April 27, Clinton; April 28, Enid; May 3, Tulsa; May 4, Grove; May 5, Stigler; May 17, McAlester; May 18, Antlers; May 19, Coalgate; May 24, Sulphur; May 25, Lawton; and May 26, Oklahoma City.

The largest water use in the Lower Washita Watershed Planning Region is for municipal and industrial purposes; the region comprises about 4% (80,440 acre-feet per year (AFY)) of the state’s total current water demand. According to OCWP water use projections, by 2060, the Lower Washita Region is projected to have a total demand of 117,230 acre-feet per year (AFY), an increase of approximately 37,000 AFY (46%) from 2010. The majority of the demand and growth in demand over this period will be in the Crop Irrigation and Municipal and Industrial sectors.

The largest water use in the Beaver-Cache Watershed Planning Region is for municipal and industrial purposes; the region comprises about 2% (44,590 acre-feet per year (AFY)) of the state’s total current water demand. According to OCWP water use projections, by 2060, the region is projected to have a total demand of 56,560 AFY, an increase of approximately 11,970 AFY (27%) from 2010. The majority of the demand and growth in demand over this period will be in the Municipal and Industrial sector.

The largest water use in the Central Watershed Planning Region is for municipal and industrial purposes; the region comprises about 18% (335,640 acre-feet per year (AFY)) of the state’s total current water demand. According to OCWP water use projections, by 2060, the region is projected to have a total demand of 442,890 AFY, an increase of approximately 107,250 AFY (32%) from 2010. The majority of the demand and growth in demand over this period will be in the Municipal and Industrial sector.


May 9, 2011

Draft State Water Plan to be Discussed at Meetings in McAlester, Antlers and Coalgate

State water agency officials, along with policy and planning specialists, will be on hand May 17 in McAlester, May 18 in Antlers, and May 19 in Coalgate to share early findings from the 2012 Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan (OCWP) Update.

The OCWP Eufaula Region planning sessions will be held May 17 at the Southeast Expo Center in McAlester, the Southeast Region meeting on May 18 at the Antlers Community Building, and the Blue-Boggy Region meeting on May 19 at the Coal County Fairgrounds in Coalgate. The meetings will be hosted by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB), the state agency responsible for coordinating the update, and Oklahoma Water Resources Research Institute (OWRRI), which was contracted to coordinate the OCWP public participation process.

At each meeting location, a technical session will be held from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. to share information on local water supply systems, infrastructure and related issues. A separate evening session, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m., will focus on proposed state water policy, specifically draft recommendations derived from the public, water user groups, and experts. The interim OCWP draft was officially released by the OWRB in early April for public review and comment. Completed drafts of OCWP Watershed Planning Region Reports, which detail current water use as well as future usage scenarios and options to address water issues, are also currently available on the OWRB’s website at www.owrb.ok.gov/ocwp; all of those reports will be available for review in advance of regional meetings.

According to J.D. Strong, OWRB Executive Director, OCWP technical reports are the first of their kind. "Collectively, the Watershed Planning Region Reports are an invaluable planning tool that will eventually benefit virtually every Oklahoman in establishing reliable and beneficial water supplies. Each report has been carefully designed to allow the water system manager, farmer, irrigator, industrial operator, business owner, and casual citizen to make intelligent and informed decisions concerning the use and sustainability of our most precious natural resource," he says.

The OWRB strongly encourages those planning to attend the meetings to review beforehand the draft report and associated documents, which present fifty-year projections of water use in the state’s planning regions, options to meet forecasted deficits in supply or related problems, and dozens of water policy recommendations developed by both Oklahoma citizens and stakeholders that will be submitted to the State Legislature upon the plan’s conclusion in February 2012. These regional feedback and implementation meetings are scheduled throughout the state in April and May as part of the final stage of the OCWP’s unprecedented public participation process.

In addition to providing citizens with an opportunity to comment on the recommended policy actions and technical water information contained in the draft OCWP documents and reports, the public will be encouraged to suggest the most practical methods to accomplish those initiatives. Both the afternoon technical session and evening water policy session will utilize an informal format that facilitates more engaging personal contact and information exchange between the public and staff of the OWRB, OWRRI and CDM, the OCWP’s lead engineering firm, who will be available to talk with citizens and answer specific questions about regional and state water concerns. Meetings are open to citizens from any region of the state. The public may also submit comments through the OWRRI’s website at http://okwaterplan.info, email at waterplan@okstate.edu, or by calling 405-744-9994.

The largest water use in the Eufaula Watershed Planning Region is for municipal and industrial purposes; the region comprises about 2% (40,850 acre-feet per year (AFY)) of the state’s total current water demand. According to OCWP water use projections, by 2060, the Eufaula Region is projected to have a total demand of 55,640 AFY, an increase of approximately 14,800 AFY (36%) from 2010. The majority of the demand and growth in demand over this period will be in the Municipal and Industrial, Crop Irrigation, and Oil and Gas sectors.

The largest water use in the Southeast Watershed Planning Region is for self supplied industrial purposes; the region comprises about 3% (58,100 acre-feet per year (AFY)) of the state’s total current water demand. According to OCWP water use projections, by 2060, the region is projected to have a total demand of 72,930 AFY, an increase of approximately 14,840 AFY (26%) from 2010. The majority of the demand and growth in demand over this period will be in the Self Supplied Industrial water use sector, but significant growth is expected from the Crop Irrigation and Thermoelectric Power sectors.

The largest water use in the Blue-Boggy Watershed Planning Region is for crop irrigation and, to a lesser extent, municipal and industrial purposes; the region comprises about 3% (61,390 acre-feet per year (AFY)) of the state’s total current water demand. According to OCWP water use projections, by 2060, the Blue-Boggy Region is projected to have a total demand of 85,700 AFY, an increase of approximately 24,310 AFY (40%) from 2010. The majority of the demand and growth in demand over this period will be in the Thermoelectric Power sector.


April 22, 2011

Draft State Water Plan to be Discussed at Meetings in Tulsa, Grove and Stigler

State water agency officials, along with policy and planning specialists, will be on hand May 3 in Tulsa, May 4 in Grove, and May 5 in Stigler to share early findings from the 2012 Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan (OCWP) Update.

The OCWP Middle Arkansas Region planning sessions will be held May 3 at the OSU-Tulsa campus (B.S. Roberts Room) in Tulsa, the Grand meeting on May 4 at Grove City Hall (Community Room), and the Lower Arkansas meeting on May 5 at the Kiamichi Technology Center Stigler Campus. The meetings will be hosted by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB), the state agency responsible for coordinating the update, and Oklahoma Water Resources Research Institute (OWRRI), which was contracted to coordinate the OCWP public participation process.

At each meeting location, a technical session will be held from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. to share information on local water supply systems, infrastructure and related issues. A separate evening session, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m., will focus on proposed state water policy, specifically draft recommendations derived from the public, water user groups, and experts. The interim OCWP draft was officially released by the OWRB in early April for public review and comment. Completed drafts of OCWP Watershed Planning Region Reports, which detail current water use as well as future usage scenarios and options to address water issues, are also currently available on the OWRB’s website at www.owrb.ok.gov/ocwp; all of those reports will be available for review in advance of regional meetings.

According to J.D. Strong, OWRB Executive Director, these technical reports are the first of their kind. "Collectively, the Watershed Planning Region Reports are an invaluable planning tool that will eventually benefit virtually every Oklahoman in establishing reliable and beneficial water supplies. Each report has been carefully designed to allow the water system manager, farmer, irrigator, industrial operator, business owner, and casual citizen to make intelligent and informed decisions concerning the use and sustainability of our most precious natural resource," he says.

The OWRB encourages those planning to attend the meetings to review beforehand the draft report and associated documents, which present fifty-year projections of water use in the state’s planning regions, options to meet forecasted deficits in supply or related problems, and dozens of water policy recommendations developed by both Oklahoma citizens and stakeholders that will be submitted to the State Legislature upon the plan’s conclusion in February 2012. These regional feedback and implementation meetings are scheduled throughout the state in April and May as part of the final stage of the OCWP’s unprecedented public participation process.

In addition to providing citizens with an opportunity to comment on the recommended policy actions and technical water information contained in the draft OCWP documents and reports, the public will be encouraged to suggest the most practical methods to accomplish those initiatives. Both the afternoon technical session and evening water policy session will utilize an informal format that facilitates more engaging personal contact and information exchange between the public and staff of the OWRB, OWRRI and CDM, the OCWP’s lead engineering firm, who will be available to talk with citizens and answer specific questions about regional and state water concerns. Meetings are open to citizens from any region of the state. The public may also submit comments through the OWRRI’s website at http://okwaterplan.info, email at waterplan@okstate.edu, or by calling 405-744-9994.

The largest water use in the Middle Arkansas Watershed Planning Region is for municipal and industrial purposes; the region comprises 12% of the state’s total water demand. According to OCWP water use projections, by 2060, the Middle Arkansas Region is projected to have a total demand for water of 304,000 acre-feet per year (AFY), an increase of approximately 76,000 AFY (33 percent growth) from 2010. The majority of the demand and growth in demand over this period will be in the Municipal and Industrial sector, with significant growth in demand also coming from the Thermoelectric Power sector.

The largest water use in the Grand Watershed Planning Region is for municipal and industrial purposes; the region comprises 2% of the state’s total water demand. According to OCWP water use projections, by 2060, the Grand Region is projected to have a total demand of 57,600 acre-feet per year (AFY), an increase of approximately 20,000 AFY (54%) from 2010. The majority of the demand and growth in demand over this period will be in the Municipal and Industrial sector.

The largest water use in the Lower Arkansas Watershed Planning Region is for thermoelectric power generation; the region comprises 11% of the state’s total water demand. According to OCWP water use projections, by 2060, the Upper Arkansas Region is projected to have a total demand of 319,700 acre-feet per year (AFY), an increase of approximately 118,000 AFY (58%) from 2010. The majority of the demand and growth in demand over this period will be in the Thermoelectric Power sector.


April 18, 2011

Draft State Water Plan to be Discussed at Local Meetings

State water agency officials, along with policy and planning specialists, will be on hand April 26 in Lone Wolf, April 27 in Clinton, and April 28 in Enid to share early findings from the 2012 Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan (OCWP) Update.

The OCWP Southwest Region planning sessions will be held April 26 at Quartz Mountain State Park near Lone Wolf, the West Central meeting on April 27 at the Custer County Fairgrounds in Clinton, and the Upper Arkansas meeting on April 28 at the Garfield County Fairgrounds (Hoover Building) in Enid. The meetings will be hosted by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB), the state agency responsible for coordinating the update, and Oklahoma Water Resources Research Institute (OWRRI), which was contracted to coordinate the OCWP public participation process.

At each meeting location, a technical session will be held from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. to share information on local water supply systems, infrastructure and related issues. A separate evening session, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m., will focus on proposed state water policy, specifically draft recommendations derived from the public, water user groups, and experts. The interim OCWP draft was officially released by the OWRB in early April for public review and comment. Several OCWP Watershed Planning Region Reports – including reports on the Panhandle, Southwest and West Central regions, which detail current water use as well as future usage scenarios and options to address water issues – are also currently available on the OWRB’s website at www.owrb.ok.gov/ocwp.

According to J.D. Strong, OWRB Executive Director, these technical reports are the first of their kind. "Collectively, the Watershed Planning Region Reports are an invaluable planning tool that will eventually benefit virtually every Oklahoman in establishing reliable and beneficial water supplies. Each report has been carefully designed to allow the water system operator, farmer, irrigator, and casual citizen to make intelligent and informed decisions concerning the use and sustainability of our most precious natural resource," he says.

The OWRB encourages those planning to attend the meetings to review beforehand the draft report and associated documents, which present fifty-year projections of water use in the state’s planning regions, options to meet forecasted deficits in supply or related problems, and dozens of water policy recommendations developed by both Oklahoma citizens and stakeholders that will be submitted to the State Legislature upon the plan’s conclusion in February 2012. These regional feedback and implementation meetings are scheduled throughout the state in April and May as part of the final stage of the OCWP’s unprecedented public participation process.

In addition to providing citizens with an opportunity to comment on the recommended policy actions and technical water information contained in the draft OCWP documents and reports, the public will be encouraged to suggest the most practical methods to accomplish those initiatives. Both the afternoon technical session and evening water policy session will utilize an informal format that facilitates more engaging personal contact and information exchange between the public and staff of the OWRB, OWRRI and CDM, the OCWP’s lead engineering firm, who will be available to talk with citizens and answer specific questions about regional and state water concerns. Meetings are open to citizens from any region of the state. The public may also submit comments through the OWRRI’s website at http://okwaterplan.info, email at waterplan@okstate.edu, or by calling 405-744-9994.

The largest water use in the Southwest Watershed Planning Region is for crop irrigation; the region comprises 9% of the state’s total water demand. According to OCWP water use projections, by 2060, the Southwest Region is projected to have a total demand for water of 213,100 acre-feet per year (AFY), an increase of approximately 36,100 AFY (20 percent growth) from 2010. The majority of the demand and growth in demand over this period will be in the Crop Irrigation sector. Three basins in the region have been identified by state planners as “hot spots,” or areas where more pronounced water supply availability issues are forecasted to occur.

The largest water use in the West Central Watershed Planning Region is for crop irrigation; the region comprises 4% of the state’s total water demand. According to OCWP water use projections, by 2060, the West Central Region is projected to have a total demand for water of 110,304 acre-feet per year (AFY), an increase of approximately 30,600 AFY (38 percent growth) from 2010. The majority of the demand and growth in demand over this period will be in the Crop Irrigation sector, with significant growth also coming from the Oil & Gas sector.

The largest water use in the Upper Arkansas Watershed Planning Region is for municipal and industrial purposes; the region comprises 7% of the state’s total water demand. According to OCWP water use projections, by 2060, the Upper Arkansas Region is projected to have a total demand for water of 182,770 acre-feet per year (AFY), an increase of approximately 54,190 AFY (42 percent growth) from 2010. The majority of the demand and growth in demand over this period will be in the Municipal and Industrial sector.


April 8, 2011

Draft State Water Plan to be Discussed at Local Meeting

First Watershed Planning Region Report Released

State agency officials and policy and planning specialists will be on hand April 19 at the County Fairgrounds Pavilion in Beaver to share draft findings from the 2012 Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan (OCWP) Update, including the first of thirteen regional reports detailing current water use as well as future usage scenarios and options to address water issues.

A technical session will be held from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., followed by an evening water policy session from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. The meetings will be hosted by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB), the state agency responsible for coordinating the update, and Oklahoma Water Resources Research Institute (OWRRI), who was contracted to coordinate the OCWP public participation process. The interim OCWP draft was officially released last week for public review and comment. And today, the OCWP Panhandle Watershed Planning Region Report is also available on the OWRB’s website.

The Panhandle report is the first of its kind, according to J.D. Strong, OWRB Executive Director. "I am extremely proud of Water Board staff for their meticulous work in developing this totally unique and invaluable planning tool that will eventually benefit virtually every Oklahoman in establishing sustainable and reliable water supplies. The Panhandle report, like the twelve others to follow, has been carefully designed to allow the water system operator, farmer, irrigator, and casual citizen to make intelligent and informed decisions concerning our most precious natural resource."

Strong encourages those planning to attend the April 19 meeting and future meetings to review beforehand the draft report and associated documents which present fifty-year projections of water use in the state’s planning regions, options to meet forecasted deficits in supply or related problems, and dozens of water policy recommendations developed by both Oklahoma citizens and stakeholders that will be submitted to the State Legislature upon the plan’s conclusion in February 2012. The meeting in Beaver will be the first of thirteen regional feedback and implementation meetings scheduled across the state as part of the final stage of the OCWP’s unprecedented public participation process.

In addition to providing citizens with an opportunity to comment on the recommended policy actions and technical water information contained in the draft OCWP documents and reports, the public will be encouraged to suggest the most practical methods to accomplish those initiatives. Both the afternoon technical session and evening water policy session will utilize an informal format that facilitates more engaging personal contact and information exchange between the public and staff of the OWRB, OWRRI and CDM, the OCWP’s lead engineering firm, who will be available to talk with citizens and answer specific questions about regional and state water concerns. Meetings are open to citizens from any region of the state.

The OCWP Panhandle Watershed Planning Region includes six basins (or watersheds), encompassing some 9,426 square miles in northwest Oklahoma, extending through Cimarron, Texas, and Beaver Counties, and southeast through all of Harper County and portions of Woods, Woodward, Major, Blaine, Dewey, and Ellis Counties. Concerning water use, the region relies primarily on bedrock groundwater supplies from the Ogallala aquifer, and the largest water use is for crop irrigation.

According to OCWP water use projections, by 2060, the Panhandle Region is projected to have a total demand for water of 473,800 acre-feet per year (AFY), an increase of approximately 83,000 AFY (21 percent growth) from 2010. While surface water supplies will remain insufficient to meet this future demand in the region, increased use of groundwater could result in higher pumping costs, the need for deeper wells, and potential changes to well yields or water quality. Three basins in the region have been identified by state planners as “hot spots,” or areas where more pronounced water supply availability issues are forecasted to occur. Additional conservation measures and the construction of new small reservoirs are identified as potential options to mitigate some water supply problems and reduce depletions of groundwater storage.

In addition to the regional meeting, citizens may also submit comments through the OWRRI’s website at http://okwaterplan.info, email at waterplan@okstate.edu, or by calling 405-744-9994. For more information on the OCWP, visit the OWRB’s website.


March 23, 2011

State Water Board Bonds Receive Triple-A Ratings

The Oklahoma Water Resources Board has maintained a superior bond rating.

The OWRB has an unbroken string of triple-A ratings on bonds it sells to generate funds that the agency lends for water and wastewater improvements throughout the state. J.D. Strong, executive director of the Water Resources Board, noted that AAA is the best rating which can be achieved and is reserved for the highest quality debt.

The OWRB will sell nearly $142 million in revenue bonds this week to raise additional capital for its State Revolving Fund (SRF) Programs. Earlier this month those bonds received an “AAA” rating from Moody’s Investor Service, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch Ratings. The bonds include:

  • $85 million earmarked for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), which is a source of financing for municipal wastewater infrastructure projects
  • $56.965 million designated for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), which is co-administered with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality and is a source of financing for drinking water infrastructure projects

Because of the excellent ratings, the OWRB bonds will command a low interest rate from bond buyers.

“This directly affects our borrowers in a positive way,” said Joe Freeman, chief of the water board’s Financial Assistance Division. “We are able to provide loans to Oklahoma communities and rural water districts at interest rates that are lower than from other funding sources. This enables our borrowers to keep their water and sewer rates lower.”

Borrowers of OWRB funds typically are charged 70 percent of the prevailing market rate on DWSRF loans, and 60 percent of the market rate on CWSRF loans, the Moody’s bond analysis indicates.

The Water Resources Board has on its books 263 outstanding SRF loans worth $742 million, issued to 216 borrowers, ledgers reflect.

The five largest borrowers (Bartlesville, Lawton, Tulsa, Muskogee and Duncan) account for one-fourth of the loan pool, but no single borrower accounts for more than 7 percent of the total portfolio.

Furthermore, cash flow, interest earnings and debt-service coverage are more than adequate, and the OWRB has reserves of $111.7 million, Fitch, S&P and Moody’s all pointed out. Also, the two revolving funds are cross-collateralized so that resources from both programs are available to support each other, if necessary.

In fact, the OWRB’s SRF Programs “could withstand a significant but unlikely default” on approximately 37 percent of its loans for the next 30 years “and debt service could still be paid,” Moody’s emphasized.

Since inception of the FAP in 1985, the OWRB has authorized 694 loans totaling more than $2.3 billion, Freeman said.

Of the $85 million in the latest bond sale, approximately $45 million will be allocated to the CWSRF for loans already made, $34 million will be allocated for additional projects over the next three years, and the remaining $6 million will be reserved for state matching funds.

Similarly, of the $56.965 million, approximately $20 million will be allocated to the DWSRF for loans already approved, $34 million will be allocated for new projects over the next 12 months, and the remaining $3 million will be reserved for state matching funds.

The three ratings agencies praised the OWRB for its “strong” financial management and program oversight; its “sound” underwriting standards; loan requirements that borrowers pledge water or sewer revenues, and perhaps additional sources such as electric revenues and/or sales taxes, as collateral; and the agency’s “substantial” reserves.

The Oklahoma Water Resources Board previously sold bonds in 2003, 2004 and 2010 to generate funds for the Clean Water and the Drinking Water revolving funds, Freeman related.


March 3, 2011

Sixth Oklahoma Water Appreciation Day Set for March 9

The sixth annual Oklahoma Water Appreciation Day will be held March 9 at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) will host the event featuring state agency and organization booths and displays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Capitol’s 4th floor rotunda.

“Water Appreciation Day presents a unique opportunity for groups to demonstrate the importance of Oklahoma’s water resources, as well as provide information on their water management, conservation, and educational programs for state legislators and other government officials,” says J.D. Strong, OWRB Executive Director. “This annual celebration of Oklahoma’s diverse water resources not only focuses the attention of our state leaders on pressing water issues, but also serves to recognize those who strive to protect our most precious natural resource.”

At noon on Water Appreciation Day, legislators, agency officials, and representatives of various water-related organizations will gather in the Governor’s Large Conference Room to recognize the event and learn about important developments related to state water resources management and planning. OWRB Chairman Rudy Herrmann, Strong, and OWRB Director of Planning Kyle Arthur will be on hand to provide the latest information concerning the ongoing update of the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan (OCWP), which is entering its final phase. Major components of the Water Plan, which will be completed later this year and presented to the Legislature in 2012, include numerous technical studies of state water supplies, infrastructure needs, and priority water management issues, as well as a water policy development effort strengthened through unprecedented public participation.

The OWRB, Oklahoma’s water agency, was created in 1957 with the original charge of identifying water problems and proposing policies for fair and equitable water laws. The Board now directs staff in many areas, including the administration of permits for the beneficial use of stream and groundwater, studies of the quality and quantity of surface and groundwaters, ensuring the safety of private dams, encouragement of responsible floodplain management, coordination of four interstate stream compacts, monitoring of streamflows and groundwater levels, administration of loans and grants to assist communities and rural water districts in the construction of water and wastewater facilities, development of Oklahoma Water Quality Standards to curb water pollution, identification of pollution sources, restoration of water quality, and oversight of the state’s long-range water planning.

For more information on Water Appreciation Day, call Josh McClintock at 405-530-8800.


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