SB568 creates the Phase II Arbuckle-Simpson Hydrology Study Revolving Fund, administered by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB). The US Geological Survey, in conjunction with the OWRB, has prepared a scope of work for the study, and the cost will be shared between local, state, tribal, and federal sources.
HB2471 places a moratorium on the issuance of new mining permits by the OWRB, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, and the Oklahoma Department of Mines in the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer area pending completion of the study no later than 2030.
SB998 defines the taking and use of marginal water to be of beneficial use and not waste, within certain limitations and standards. HB3405, approved last year, allows the OWRB to permit the use of marginal water. The OWRB recently amended Chapter 30 to define marginal water as water that has at least 5,000 but less than 10,000 parts per million total dissolved solids. Well construction standards in Chapter 35 were amended to include marginal quality water wells in order to protect fresh water zones. Later this year, the OWRB will promulgate rules in response to SB998 to incentivize the use of marginal water in lieu of fresh water for nondomestic purposes.
HB2263, or the Groundwater Irrigation District Act, allows ten or more groundwater permit holders in one or more adjacent counties to propose the organization of a groundwater irrigation district. The district board, appointed by the county board of commissioners, will have the authority to seek grant funding for conservation-minded groundwater irrigation equipment, such as subsurface drip lines. The Act also authorizes the OWRB to promulgate rules for such districts.
SB539 extends the OWRB's use of Gross Production Tax revenue through 2022 to fund the continued implementation of the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan (OCWP), as well as related statutorily-mandated hydrologic studies. The OWRB is currently developing the scope of work and partnering with the US Army Corps of Engineers to secure additional funding for the 2023 Update of the OCWP. Hydrologic studies scheduled to be completed by 2022 include the following aquifers:
Red River A&T
Salt Fork of the Arkansas A&T
Washita A&T Reach 1, 3, and 4
North Canadian A&T Reach 3a and 3b
HB2474 directs the OWRB to maintain an online list of pending water use permit applications, available here, in addition to the traditional newspaper publication notice required of applicants. As before, the thirty-day protest period begins on the date of the first newspaper publication.