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NPR Story
12:28 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

State Water Regulator Stands By Aquifer Limits Amid Landowner Pushback

The popular Vendome Well at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Sulphur, Okla., has its source in the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

The popular Vendome Well at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Sulphur, Okla., has its source in the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer.

Sulphur resident Carolyn Sparks wanted the Oklahoma Water Resources Board to reconsider its decision to place a stricter limit on the amount of water that can be withdrawn from the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer in south-central Oklahoma.

She told The Ada News reporter Eric Swanson she was disappointed when the board rejected her entreaty earlier this week.

“Once again, they’ve taken my groundwater and given it to people downstream,” she said.

… Krystina Phillips, an attorney representing the advocacy group Citizens for the Protection of the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer, said she was pleased with the board’s decision.

“We think it’s the right one,” she said after the meeting.

In an earlier story from The Ada News, Sparks expressed concern she and her husband wouldn’t be allowed to use the amount of water needed to irrigate their pecan trees.

As StateImpact reported in October, determining the maximum annual yield (MAY) of Arbuckle-Simpson water use was a decade-long process that “came about — in part — because some landowners were concerned that limestone and sand mining was draining the aquifer too quickly.”

The aquifer serves as the main source of municipal water for towns like Ada, Sulphur and Davis, whose city governments all support the MAY. The cap is .2 acre-feet per year per acre of land — about 65,000 gallons per acre.

But the vote on the cap last month was clearly not the end of the fight.

The board’s action Tuesday clears the way for the courts to review the MAY order. … Organizations opposing the order are seeking a court review because the believe the MAY violates landowners’ property rights.

Both sides are awaiting a ruling on whether the case should be transferred from Oklahoma County to Pontotoc County.

Copyright 2013 StateImpact Oklahoma. To see more, visit http://stateimpact.npr.org/oklahoma/.