Edmondson's office rebuffs another bid by Texas entity to take Oklahoma water

18:49PM on July 16 2010
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Attorney General Drew Edmondson said his office has successfully rebuffed another bid by a Texas entity to take Oklahoma water.

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma today granted Edmondson’s motion to dismiss a Tarrant Regional Water District lawsuit that attempted to claim Oklahoma water law is unconstitutional. Tarrant is seeking to force the Oklahoma Water Resources Board to allow the Texas water district access to waters within Oklahoma’s borders.

“U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton issued his final judgement in this case so Tarrant’s only option is an appeal to the 10th Circuit,” Edmondson said. “We fully expect that appeal to be filed in the coming weeks.”

Oklahoma Secretary of the Environment J.D. Strong said Tarrant was seeking to divert more than 400,000 acre-feet of water, about 130 billion gallons, from tributaries of the Red River in Oklahoma.

“This important ruling once again strengthens Oklahoma’s right to control the use of its most precious natural resource and enables the state to meet its interstate water obligations,” Strong said.

Edmondson, who has been fighting to protect Oklahoma water rights on several fronts, said his office will continue its defense of Oklahoma law at the federal appeals level, should Tarrant attempt to overturn today’s ruling.

This is the second time Tarrant’s legal bid for Oklahoma water has been rejected. The same federal court in November 2009 granted Edmondson’s motion to dismiss the original Tarrant lawsuit. In May, the attorney general won a similar federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma in which the City of Hugo wanted to sell Oklahoma water to the City of Irving, Texas.

“This state is blessed with an abundant supply of clean water,” Edmondson said, “and it must be protected. This natural resource is important to Oklahoma’s economic future and we must guard our authority to manage and protect it.”