Tahlequah Daily Press

Z_CNHI News Service

March 13, 2014

ERDA releases first step in regional water plan

ENID, Okla. — Enid Regional Development Alliance has released the framework and mission statement for a months-long study that will set the region’s water agenda.

Called the Northwest Oklahoma Water Action Plan, the study hopes to come up with a strategy for efficient management of water resources.

“Our purpose is to put together a plan that municipalities and industry can follow for long-term, sustained water supply in northwest Oklahoma,” Executive Director Brent Kisling said.

ERDA paid $20,000 for a government relations firm to organize the mission plan and scope of work.

Kisling said to conduct research, hold at least 10 meetings and write a final comprehensive report could cost $150,000. Regional governments, individuals and businesses are being courted to help fund the study.

“Our next step is to select funding in order to actually create the plan throughout the summer,” Kisling said. “Anybody in northwest Oklahoma or across the state that would be interested in helping fund this effort, we would love to talk to them.”

Some communities in northwest Oklahoma already have been contacted, he said, along with about two dozen others who met to provide initial input into the mission and scope statement.

“We’ve had several of the communities in northwest Oklahoma involved — the larger communities,” said Kisling. “We’ve had rural water districts. We’ve had conservation districts. We’ve had farm organizations. We have had energy organizations. We’ve had landowners, irrigators.”

Once funding is in place, the organizers will send out an open invitation to anyone wanting to contribute, he said.

“We would love to have them and their input,” said Kisling.

He said participation will not be limited to those who help pay for the study.

“We will have a steering committee that will include those who have provided the funding for the process. But everybody will provide input on the plan,” he said.

In a document released this week, the proposed Northwest Oklahoma Water Action Plan Team will do the following the following:

• Analyze water supply.

• Study impact of agriculture, oil and gas, industrial and human use.

• Plot current and projected demand.

• Anticipate shortages.

• Recommend water management practices, including development of brackish water sources and new surface supplies, re-use of water and other measures.

The analysis will cover much of northwest Oklahoma except for the Panhandle, which is completing its own study. Data from Alfalfa, Blaine, Canadian, Custer, Dewey, Ellis, Garfield, Grant, Harper, Kay, Kingfisher, Major, Woods and Woodward counties will be included.

Once the study is funded and kicks off, it could be another eight months to complete.

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