Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Senators Oppose OKC Plan to Buy Sardis Lake Water

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Senators Oppose OKC Plan to Buy Sardis Lake Water

Article excerpt

A plan by Oklahoma City to purchase water from Sardis Lake for $42 million is being opposed by a group of southeastern Oklahoma lawmakers.

Speaking at a Capitol press conference Tuesday, state Sens. Jerry Ellis, D-Valliant; Jim Wilson, D-Tahlequah; Richard Lerblance, D- Hartshorne; Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant; and Kenneth Corn, D-Poteau, said Oklahoma City's proposal to purchase the water from Sardis Lake would be premature, given that a statewide water study won't be completed for another two years.

"We discovered late last week there was an effort being made to sell the water rights to the Oklahoma City water trust," Wilson said. "It seems like it's under the radar."

Ellis said the sale would transfer resources from a poor part of the state to a rich area.

"That's nothing short of regional discrimination," he said.

Ellis said he wrote to Gov. Brad Henry in February, expressing his opposition to any agreement to transfer water prior to the completion of the study. Ellis said he asked to be included in future discussions dealing with Sardis Lake since the lake is located in his legislative district, but so far has received no response.

The lawmakers said they also are concerned that the state is selling resources at fire sale prices.

"We don't even know what the true dollar value of this water is - much less the economic and environmental impact such a transfer would have on the southeastern counties of our state," Ellis said. "Just as objectionable is the fact that this agreement seems to be in the hands of the state's Water Resources Board, which does not have a single member from our area."

Gumm said the sale is an attempt to treat southeastern Oklahoma like a Third World country.

"There is virtually no sunshine in this process whatsoever," he said. "And the result will be that we end up with nothing in southeastern Oklahoma. …

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