Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Water Lawsuit Ruling Draws Praise from Oklahoma Officials

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Water Lawsuit Ruling Draws Praise from Oklahoma Officials

Article excerpt

State officials are putting a positive spin on Friday's federal court ruling that denied a north Texas water district's request to reconsider its lawsuit over water rights.

Just days after Oklahoma's new water plan was approved and sent to the state Legislature, a federal appeals court denied a request by the Tarrant Regional Water District to reconsider its lawsuit against Oklahoma. The lawsuit sought to allow the TRWD to take water flowing into the Red River from below the Hugo Lake Dam.

On Friday, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a one- page order denying the petition.

Oklahoma officials said the ruling underscores the state's efforts to write its own water policy.

"The governor and Oklahoma Legislature made it clear that Oklahoma must set its own water policy," said J.D. Strong, executive director of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. "The court's decision further supports our position."

The Tarrant water district had sought to purchase more than 100 billion gallons from Oklahoma tributaries of the Red River that run along the border between the two states. Texas officials said they were unable to take water directly from the river because that water was contaminated with chlorides from upstream salt deposits.

In September, the appeals court affirmed a lower court decision to dismiss the 2007 lawsuit, saying the state was protected by the Red River Compact. The court said the compact insulates Oklahoma from interstate commerce challenges involving water. The Red River Compact includes Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Republican Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said the state was pleased with the court's decision.

"The ruling underscores that the people of Oklahoma should not be mandated through litigation to shape water policy," Pruitt said in a media statement. "Water is an important resource that is vital to Oklahomans, and my office will continue to defend our state's interests."

Since 2007, Oklahoma officials have fought Texas' attempts to purchase water. …

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