The Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations today announced a seven-point plan intended to clarify the Nations’ water resource management priorities in light of recent litigation over water rights in their southeastern Oklahoma homelands. These points, dubbed “The Essentials,” would ensure everyOklahoman’s water needs will be met while respecting the rights and responsibilities of the Nations with regard to the removal of water from their historic territories.
“Like other Oklahomans, the Chickasaws and Choctaws want to preserve the state’s natural beauty and precious water resources for future generations,” said Chickasaw Gov. Bill Anoatubby. “The seven-point plan we have developed outlines the key points — the essentials, if you will — that any water management plan must address in order to ensure the continued sustainability of our water supply and prosperity of our great state.”
By publicly outlining their water management priorities, the Nations hope they can work together with state leaders to develop a water plan that meets the needs of urban and rural Oklahoma while maintaining the environmental health of the state’s rivers, streams and lakes. Faced with the possibility of prolonged litigation, leaders of both tribes have repeatedly expressed a preference to settle their differences with the state through negotiation.
“The Nations have no desire to challenge existing permitted uses of water by any Oklahoman,” addedChoctaw Chief Gregory E. Pyle. “Rather, the lawsuit filed against state officials and Oklahoma City was designed to ensure our rights are taken into account in any future plan to remove additional water from our historic homelands.”
The plan outlines the following water resource management essentials:
• Urban — It is essential to meet the water needs of our urban centers — Oklahoma City and Tulsa — in order for all Oklahoma to prosper.
• Towns and Rural — It is essential to meet the water needs of our growing towns and rural Oklahoma so their economic potential is realized.