Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

Government News

August 3, 2011

House and Senate members selected for Water Committee

(Continued)

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma —

The committee’s co-chairmen are Rep. Phil Richardson and Sen. Brian Crain.

“This committee will have an open mind and open door. It’s not a committee about selling water. It’s not a committee about a water plan. It’s a committee about water, and we’ll see where it goes,” said Crain, R-Tulsa. “We are here to ask the tough questions that the Legislature needs to be ready to address. What we do know is input will be encouraged and sought from tribal nations, citizens, government officials, engineers, water quality experts, recreational enthusiasts and whoever else has it. We’re here to listen, learn and take whatever actions are necessary.”

The committee will study Oklahoma’s water laws, resources, history, needs and existing policies. It will also explore how to address Oklahoma’s future water infrastructure needs.

“The current drought and heat are stark reminders of why we need a responsible water policy foundation in Oklahoma,” said Richardson, R-Minco. “More droughts and extreme weather are sure to come, and if we’re not prepared, water supplies will dry up and infrastructure will break down. Without proper water planning, we’ll put ourselves at risk of going dry when we need water the most. This committee’s goal is to avoid that outcome by laying the water foundation Oklahoma needs.”

At the committee’s first meeting Aug. 17 in Oklahoma City, the committee will adopt guiding principles for its work.

The Oklahoma Water Resources Board is scheduled to approve the final version of the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan in October and deliver it to the Legislature at the annual Governor’s Water Conference. The Water Committee will hold a meeting at the Water Conference during which it will formally receive the water plan.

Until then, the committee will take no formal action on the water plan, but will begin reviewing draft copies of the plan that have been made publicly available in recent months.

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