theadanews.com - Ada, Oklahoma

January 29, 2012

Tribes adopt seven-point plan for water


The Ada News

Ada —  

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. 

• Tourism — It is essential to meet the water needs for tourism, Oklahoma’s third largest industry. This 

means maintaining water levels high enough for water recreation uses.

• Agriculture — It is essential to meet the water needs of our state’s farmers and ranchers.

• Drought defense — It is essential our water plan puts Oklahomans first and prepares for the worst. 

Our current serious drought reinforces the importance of drought defense.

• Sustainability — It is essential we certify the sustainability of our water resources so the supply will

be there when we need it. The Chickasaw and Choctaw nations are committed to environmental stewardship of our water resources.

• Unity — It is essential that Oklahomans work together cooperatively to create a water plan for the entire state. “We call on state leaders to work with us to develop a sustainable water management plan for the greater good of all Oklahomans,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “We firmly believe state and tribal leaders can resolve our differences through negotiation instead of proceeding with the general stream adjudication process.

The Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations are currently working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 

to develop a regional water plan that meets the goals outlined in The Essentials. The tribes believe having a science-based plan is critical to sustainable management of water resources to support economic

development, recreation, household use and to provide for the environmental health of Oklahoma’s water

supply.