ADA — Rumors that Ada’s water use from the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer will be cut in half don’t hold water, according to a spokesman for the Oklahoma Water Resource Board.

Brian Vance, an OWRB spokesman, said the comprehensive five-year study of the aquifer will be not be completed until late 2008.

“The comprehensive five-year study of the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer will not be completed until late 2008,” Vance said. “I can assure you that no recommendations have been made. Yes, the data has been collected, but we’re a long way from finishing the project. I don’t know where these rumors get started, but there is absolutely no truth to them. No decisions have been made.”

The water board was directed by the state Legislature to spearhead the study.

“The way I understand it is that OWRB will study and analyze the data, then make a recommendation to the state Legislature,” Vance said. “Lawmakers will have the final say.”

Many say Oklahoma water laws are too complicated and need to be updated. Now, surface water in Oklahoma is considered public water; groundwater is tied to private property owners.

“It’s just speculation on my part, but the general feeling is that those who depend on the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer for water could be looking at a more restrictive use of ground water after the study is complete pleted,” said Mike Mathis, an associate with C. H. Guernsey and Co. and longtime OWRB official. “I don’t have any inside information about the ongoing study.”

Mathis said once a plan is put in place there will be public meetings where those of both sides of issue will have a chance to voice their concerns.

The debate over the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer erupted after several landowners over the aquifer agreed to sell hundreds of millions of gallons of water to a coalition of central-Oklahoma cities through an 88-mile-long pipeline. That sale was temporarily placed on hold after passage of Senate Bill 288 in May 2003.

The legislation imposed a moratorium on water sales from the aquifer until a study was completed.

Opponents claim SB 288 — sponsored by state Sens. J. Paul Gumm, D-Durant, and Johnnie Crutchfield, D-Ardmore, and state Rep. Paul Roan, D-Tishomingo — is unconstitutional, but the state Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling in 2006. Citizens for the Protection of the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer has led the fight for a comprehensive study before water is sold to other cities and communities.

The legislation imposed a moratorium on the issuance of any temporary groundwater permit for municipal or public water supply use outside of any county that overlays, in whole or in part, a “sensitive sole source groundwater basin.” The Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer is the only such groundwater basin in Oklahoma, officials said.

The city of Ada’s sole source of water comes from Byrd’s Mill Spring, located south of the city atop the aquifer. Three wells pump about 8.75 million gallons of water per day from the aquifer to Ada. City Engineer David Hendricks told the Ada Water Resources Board in October that a new water well was needed. It would have a design capacity of about 3.5 million gallons per day.

A feasibility study continues on a surface lake for Ada.

Meanwhile, OWRB officials said any talk about the effect of the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer by the new study is premature.

“There’s just no way to say right now how the study will affect the amount of water Ada will be allowed in the future,” Vance said. “As soon as we develop scenarios, we will release them to the public. For now, all the talk is just not founded with facts. It’s a five-year study, which means it will take five years. We’re not there yet. Let me say it again — no water management decisions have been made.”

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