A hearing concerning the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer was under way in Sulphur Wednesday. Martin Marietta Materials is proposing a deal to tap into the aquifer in order to comply to rules to keep dust levels down at their quarry.

According to Peter Dawson, vice president and general manager of the north Texas and Oklahoma district for Martin-Marietta Materials, the water would be used for dust compression and cleaning of rocks.

“We’re required to control dust emissions. Water is our primary way of doing that,” Dawson said. “When we crush rock, that also makes dust, and the primary way we control that is with water, with a series of water sprays on the plant. We take the rock from the pit, it must be washed so that it would be clean and meet the specifications required by entities such as the Oklahoma Department of Transportation or Texas Department of Transportation.”

“This quarry site has been selected because of the high quality aggregate deposits as well as its location,” he said. “The proximity to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks which would allow us to distribute the product effectively throughout Oklahoma and Texas.”

The Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer is an area of about 800 square miles in Murray, Johnston, Carter and Pontotoc counties. According to a U.S. Geological Survey, the aquifer is estimated to have 9 million acre-feet of freshwater in storage.

Martin Marietta Materials is the second largest aggregate company in the U.S. It owns more than 300 quarries in 28 states in the U.S. and employs more than 6,500 employees.

The aggregate company would use the limestone it obtains from the quarry to make concrete rock, asphalt rock and base. Seven hundred acres have been designated for this quarry.

Even though they’re seeking to use water from the aquifer, Dawson said water from other resources would be used, such as storm water and water that collects in the pit that would be pumped out and used.

“What we’re seeking here is a ground level water permit to be used as a supplemental source to these primary sources per water,” he said.

The Oklahoma Water Resources board is the deciding factor on the application and will make a decision after hearing all testimonies within the upcoming weeks.