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Oklahomans for Responsible Water Policy (ORWP) today applauded a U.S. Department of Justice decision to remove a water rights lawsuit from the Oklahoma Supreme Court and place it in federal court. DOJ documents filed Mar. 12 state that the stream adjudication suit filed by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board last month should be handled on a federal level, and that the OWRB sued the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, along with a host of Oklahomans, simply in an attempt to stop those tribes' federal suit against the state over the transfer of water out of Southeast Oklahoma.
"Stream adjudication by the state Supreme Court would have been a needless and costly exercise," said ORWP Secretary-Treasurer Dr. Harvey Arnold. "ORWP is pleased that the U.S. Justice Department has moved the litigation to the U.S. District Court where it rightfully belongs."
"ORWP believes ongoing court-supervised mediation is the appropriate place for the water issue to be resolved while protecting the rights of the state, its citizens, the tribes and local landowners," said Charlette Hearn, ORWP president.
To help Oklahomans understand the many water issues facing them in 2012, ORWP is holding a series of Town Hall meetings in Southeast Oklahoma. The next meeting will be Mar. 27, 6:30 p.m. in Durant at the Bryan County Fairgrounds. A McAlester Town Hall meeting is scheduled for April.
"While we have our differences with the state over efforts to transfer 90% of the water in Sardis to Oklahoma City, we believe there are many ways to work with the state," said former Rep. Dale Turner, an ORWP board member. "We support House Speaker Kris Steele's goals to increase water monitoring of our basins, create regional water planning groups and dramatically increase water conservation efforts by the state and its citizens."
ORWP is a grassroots citizens' organization created to protect Oklahoma's water resources, environment and way of life. In less than 2 years, ORWP has grown to almost 12,000 members, indicating just how important this issue is to fellow Oklahomans.