McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State House

November 18, 2013

Sulphur residents ask Oklahoma Water Resources Board to reconsider Arbuckle-Simpson decision

Ada —

     Two Sulphur residents are challenging the Oklahoma Water Resources Board’s decision to limit the amount of water that can be withdrawn from the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer each year.

   Carolyn and John Sparks want the board to reconsider its order setting the maximum annual yield for the aquifer. The order, which was issued in October, capped the MAY at 78,404 acre feet.

     The MAY would allow communities and landowners with water permits to withdraw up to 0.20 acre feet — about 2.4 inches — per acre per year. That number, known as the equal proportionate share, would reduce the amount of groundwater that permit holders can take out of the aquifer each year.

     The board has not devised a time frame for implementing the order, but officials are working on rules governing implementation, well spacing and other issues.

     The Sparkses, who hold a permit for groundwater to irrigate their pecan trees, are worried that the MAY order will limit the amount of water they can use, Carolyn Sparks said.

     “They have taken control of our groundwater, and it results in controlling how we use the surface,” she said Friday in a phone interview.

     Sparks said she hopes the board will Increase the amount of groundwater that can be withdrawn from the aquifer each year.

 

New development

     The Sparks’ challenge is the latest twist in a long-running fight over the future of the Arbuckle-Simpson, which lies underneath several counties in south central Oklahoma. The aquifer is the main source of drinking water for people in Ada, Sulphur and other communities.

     A decade ago, state officials began looking at ways to protect the Arbuckle-Simpson. That effort, which included a comprehensive study of the aquifer, ultimately led to the OWRB’s order setting the maximum annual yield.

     Under Oklahoma law, state agencies may reconsider their final orders if someone who opposes the decision files a request for review. The request must be filed within 10 days after the order was issued, and it must state at least one of the reasons listed in the law as a basis for reconsideration.

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