Legislature will soon form joint committee to review state Water Plan
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Published: 14-Jun-2011

Legislative leaders intend to name a joint committee to examine long-range water policy for Oklahoma, CapitolBeatOK has learned. 

While a formal date to announce formation of the joint panel could not be pinned down, the study is expected to bipartisan and to include representation of all parts of the Sooner State. 

The Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) has spent several years investigating the state’s long-term anticipated water needs. OWRB recently completed several weeks of regional hearings and is revising its draft report to incorporate some of the citizen and activist input received in those sessions. 

Some rural legislators have criticized the process of hearings, but OWRB has asserted the sessions were lively, diverse and inclusive of conflicting views. 

OWRB is aiming at an October release for its final report. Legislators are expected to await a final report before beginning the work of the joint committee. While OWRB’s work is expected to be important and partially defining for water policy, the Legislature as a whole has responsibility to prepare long-term water plans. 

The process of developing Oklahoma water policy may feature not only partisan clashes, but also jousts over urban vs. rural interests. Also anticipated are East vs. West regional strains, and likely disagreements between assertions of state authority and Indian tribal sovereignty. 

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