Most permits allow a landowner to pump a volume of water each year that would flood their land to a depth of two feet. If they owned an acre of land, they could pump two acre-feet each year.
Here is the reason that the new limit that was set by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board is such big news. The new limit is only 2.4 inches of water per acre each year, not 24 inches. The limit is good news and bad news for Ada. The good news is that the limit will preserve the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer from over pumping. It will always be there for us. The bad news is that Ada does not own enough water rights. The water rights we have right now are not adequate to meet our future needs.
Our city council saw this coming. For the past several years they have been buying water rights from local landowners. This process needs to continue at a measured and systematic pace. The time to buy the water rights is now when our supply of water is adequate.
It will be foolish to wait until we are in a crisis. The next time you see any of our city council, remind them to buy water rights.
John Wilson is a research microbiologist. He has worked at the R.S. Kerr Environmental Research Center since 1978.