OKLAHOMA CITY – The importance of water in Oklahoma’s history needs no explanation, while the priority it has in the state’s future is paramount.
From the days of the Dust Bowl to the creation of a transportation corridor to get goods from the Arkansas River to the Mississippi and beyond, water has made a huge impact on the economy of Oklahoma since statehood.
With the approval of Interim Study 14-010, members of the state House of Representatives will examine what has been done to ensure a constant supply of water to attend to the needs of Oklahomans while also ensuring a reliable, drought-resistant supply of water into the future.
“I proposed this study because water drives so much of Oklahoma’s economic engine,” said state Rep. Mark McBride. “This study will look at the key findings and recommendations from the 2012 update of the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan. We will look at the status of the program, what the Legislature can do to help accomplish the goals of the program and explore what else can be done to protect against dry spells in the future.”
Water issues are important to McBride, R-Moore, because he has seen water issues in many different prisms, from water projects in Central America to irrigation of family ranchland in northwest Oklahoma and management of a farming and ranching operation in southwest Oklahoma with several hundred acres of irrigated land.
“Someone asked me once why this topic is so important to me since I am an urban legislator,” McBride said. “I have farmed in the past and my family has ranching interests in this state. I know full well what our state’s agricultural workers face. The past dozen years, I have traveled to Central American and Africa to help drill wells for communities. I know too well how integral it is to have a solid supply as water. And, as an urban representative, I have an interest in making sure Oklahoma’s metropolitan areas continue to have a constant supply of water.
“Visionaries such as Robert S. Kerr and Wes Watkins saw the need to create a comprehensive water resource plan. I want all Oklahomans to have access to fresh drinking water and I want our farmers and ranchers to operate under a water plan that works for them. I also want our wonderful lakes and recreation areas to be protected, as fishing and boating are important aspects to the state’s tourism economy.”
McBride said he’d like to streamline the plan and make it beneficial for cities and rural areas and to create stronger bonds with the state’s Native American tribes on water issues.
“I want to make sure Oklahoma never has to experience the things I have seen in the Third World and want to see to it that we have water for all interests in Oklahoma.”
The study will be held at the state Capitol later this fall.