I often hear that Oklahoma’s current water allocation systems have worked well, which is true, and that we don’t really need to change anything. I suggest that we remember that water allocation is much easier when there is plenty of water. The comparatively less-complex system of Riparian Rights used in the water rich eastern United States is a good example. In parts of Oklahoma we are facing a situation where we have static or decreasing annual water resources, and increasing water demand from both inside and outside the state’s borders.
We should take the baseflow lesson to heart and apply it to all the state’s water resources.
We should also be prepared to face the reality that the management of Oklahoma’s water resources will be the most complex, and the most needed, when water is in the most demand and least available.
(Guy Sewell, Ph.D., is an Ada city councilman and professor of Environmental Health Sciences at East Central University.)