Northwest Oklahoma Water Plan Defines Region’s Future Water Agenda
Last Wednesday, northwest Oklahoma communities and water interests announced completion of a coordinated plan to aggressively resolve water-related issues and problems in the region.
The Northwest Oklahoma Water Action Plan (NWAP), developed through the combined efforts of numerous municipalities, agricultural organizations and the energy sector, is all about responsible economic development, according to Brent Kisling, Chairman of the NWAP Action Team and Executive Director of the Enid Regional Development Alliance.
“If we didn’t know it already, this most recent drought has made it clear that, without water, northwest Oklahoma has little chance to thrive or even maintain our citizens’ current standard of living,” he points out. “This plan recognizes that we have significant water challenges ahead of us. It reconfirms our economic objectives and recommends more appropriate policies that reflect the true value of this priceless, yet finite and vulnerable, resource.”
Developing the NWAP and serving on the Action Team to implement the Plan are the communities of Alva, Enid, Fairview and Woodward; Farm Credit Services, Northwest Oklahoma Agriculture and Irrigation Association, American Farmers and Ranchers, Continental Resources, Devon Energy, Nemaha Environmental and Select Energy Services. The Northwest Oklahoma Alliance brought these diverse interests together in August 2014, providing leadership and support of this permanent public entity and its goals. For eight months, stakeholders participated in numerous meetings to develop the Plan, which was formally approved on April 27.
The NWAP offers dozens of phased strategies at both the local and regional level to:
- Secure additional water supplies, especially groundwater but also available streamflows and reservoir storage, such as at Kaw Lake;
- Improve management of water supply systems, including better accounting of water use and programs to detect and repair leaks;
- Address high nitrate levels in drinking water and related treatment issues;
- Expand water reuse and conservation programs;
- Create a regional drought response plan;
- Investigate the use of brackish and/or other water sources of marginal quality water to free up fresh water supplies;
- Accelerate government studies to determine the yields and regulatory withdrawal rates of the region’s aquifers; and
- Secure additional funding to address water infrastructure needs
While the NWAP serves as an important blueprint for future municipal, industrial, agricultural and energy-related water development, more than anything the Plan is about maximizing water reliability, according to Kisling.
“It may surprise some, but we have lots of water in northwest Oklahoma. It’s just not always available when and where we need it. This requires approaching the problem from a regional perspective,” he says.
“Fortunately, our NWAP stakeholders have demonstrated incredible unity in developing fair and sensible solutions to our shared water problems. And that’s important because this commitment will be essential to implementation of the plan over the coming years.”
For more information or to join the implementation effort, contact Kisling at 580-233-4232.