Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Use It or Lose It: Debate Focuses on Property Rights Rules vs. Water Conservation

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Use It or Lose It: Debate Focuses on Property Rights Rules vs. Water Conservation

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA CITY - Do Oklahoma's property rights rules deter water conservation? The answer depends on one's perspective.

Two attorneys, a conservationist, a water resource district manager and an oil company regulatory adviser debated practical and legal challenges to the state's water rights laws Thursday during the second day of the annual Oklahoma Governor's Water Conference and Research Symposium at the Cox Convention Center.

Oklahoma applies a use-it-or-lose-it principle to surface water rights: A permit holder must use its annual allocation within seven years or lose the permit. Panel members disagreed, however, on whether that legal structure leads municipalities to store water, even if they don't use it right away. In drought-stricken southwestern Oklahoma, storing surface water could help Will Archer provide drinking water to his customers.

The manager of the Mountain Park Master Conservancy District serves residents in the Altus area. He can drive a pickup across dry creek beds that were flowing rivers when he was growing up in the area. James Barnett, an attorney with Doerner, Saunders, Daniel & Anderson, said water managers can avoid hoarding surface water as long as they plan ahead and have a good water lawyer.

It's possible to promote efficiency and water conservation through existing rules, said Dean Couch, attorney at GableGotwals. A municipality can show the Oklahoma Water Resources Board that it used less water than permitted because it promoted efficiency without losing rights to that resource, he said.

"I think the agency's rules are flexible enough that water is not lost on paper," he said. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.