As Texas struggles to determine how they will meet their water needs in the face of what could be an extended 5 to 10 year period of drought, Oklahomans are looking to protect their water rights as their neighbors to the south look on lustfully.
An Associated Press story says proposed legislation by two Oklahoma state lawmakers would require a statewide vote of the people before any out-of-state sale of Oklahoma water. Sen. Jerry Ellis of Valliant and Rep. Eric Proctor of Tulsa said the legislation, dubbed “The People’s Water Act”, would give Oklahomans the final say in deals with other states.
The Tarrant Regional Water District has waged a multi-year legal battle to obtain water from Oklahoma that has so far been unsuccessful. Ellis, who is based in water-rich Southeastern Oklahoma has been one of the most vocal opponents of water sales to Texas and said the future of Oklahoma water should not be decided in private meetings between politicians and Texans.
In the 1870s to 1881 recurrent friction and eventual violent conflict over water rights in the vicinity of Tularosa, New Mexico, involving villagers, ranchers, and farmers were well documented. As the region deals with this extended drought, which some say could be the region’s new norm, could we be looking at more conflicts over water, not only along groundwater sources inside the state, between industrials, urban areas and agriculutural regions, but between Texas and its neighbors?