Weekly Review by Senator Joseph Silk
I want to take a little time this week and give my prospective and thoughts on an issue that many in my five county district may not know about, the attempted transfer of water from the Kiamichi River to Oklahoma City.
For some time now Oklahoma City has had a permit to transfer water via a pipeline to and from the Kiamichi River. There is a very active group of folk doing every legal means possible to stop this from happening, and I have tried to assist in every way I can. The decision on this permit is very important because it will set a precedence for future permits regarding the transfer of water to other parts of the state. Whether you live in the Kiamichi River basin or not, everyone in southeastern Oklahoma need to be paying attention to this because it will come to affect you in one or another eventually.
I have spoken and written many times about my strong stance for local water rights and how they should be protected, so instead of recapping that I will address my four main concerns about his particular permit application.
1. The locals of Southeastern Oklahoma seem to have very little influence over the permit decision. The local people should always have the strongest voice when it comes to the natural resources in their area. Sadly, this is sometimes not the case.
2. Oklahoma City has not proved they need the water. Sure they say they do and provide some flawed, twisted data, but they are not in need of our water. Every time I make a trip to Oklahoma City, they seem to be doing just fine. Businesses are booming and the residents have plenty of basic necessities (like water). Southeastern Oklahoma on the other hand, needs additional economic growth and growth of industries, and as we all know this will be dependent on our natural resources.
3. If Oklahoma City is ever in need of water, they first need to outline and detail their own water conservation and policies before going out and piping it in from other parts of the state. However, since Oklahoma City is probably the least conservative part of the state, I am sure that will never happen.
4. Lastly, Oklahoma City has not specified how the water will be used. In my opinion, they should be forced to sign legal documents that they will not profit from the sale of Southeastern Oklahoma water (in the event the permit is approved). However, that has not been addressed at all, and I have strong suspicion that they are planning on making a profit from our water.
5. I wish the Choctaw Nation would put out more effort in fighting this. They are a part of this region of our state and could be very influential if they would get more heavily involved. Hopefully they will pick up the fight through every legal means.
I along with others are doing everything we can to fight this needless permit and will be watching it closely. As always, if I can ever be of any assistance or you would like to get together don’t hesitate to contact me.
In God We Trust,
Senator Joseph W. Silk
Oklahoma State Senate District 5
405-521-5614 Capital Office