Oklahoma’s Supreme Court recently, and correctly, upheld a law passed by legislators that calls for a moratorium on selling water from the Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer. In 2003, when the measure was first enacted, it had the effect of halting any immediate thoughts by Canadian County officials to construct an 88-mile pipeline from their backyard to ours. Their water does not meet the new federal standards for arsenic levels.

There is no more precious resource than water. Without it there is no community. Ada’s water supply comes from the Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer. Canadian County residents look with envy on the seemingly endless supply of pure water emanating from the Arbuckle-Simpson, which is arsenic free. But if too much of it is siphoned off, there will not be enough for our area’s needs.

That the moratorium was necessary in the first place points to weaknesses in Oklahoma State law regarding water. Oklahoma law prohibits a landowner from taking so much water from a stream running across his property that it negatively affects his neighbor downstream. This sounds reasonable, because it is reasonable.

But law regarding groundwater is not so reasonable. While there is a limit to how much can be taken, it is a liberal amount. Whether or not groundwater pumping by one landowner negatively affects his neighbors doesn’t matter.

No one blames ranchers for trying to profit by selling water they can drill from their land to sell to a distant municipality. But that doesn’t mean it can be allowed to happen without some research performed to determine how it will affect the rest of us.

And that is the intention of the moratorium – to allow time for the Oklahoma Water Resources Board to perform a hydrological study to determine the maximum annual yield for the groundwater basin. It is expected to be completed by 2008.

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