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State News

February 20, 2013

Tribes, state to continue water negotiations without mediator

Ada —  

Water negotiations between the state of Oklahoma and two powerful southeastern Oklahoma Indian tribes will continue without court-ordered mediation.

The tribes and state requested an additional 90 days to negotiate on Tuesday. In court papers filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, the tribes and state advised “the court-appointed mediator is no longer needed and the mediation process will continue between the parties without the mediator.”

Federal District Judge Lee West ordered mediation when the tribes filed suit 1 1/2 years ago concerning water transfers from Sardis Lake to Oklahoma City. In May 2012, a national water rights mediator — Duke University law professor Francis McGovern —  presided over negotiations, but recently his services have been deemed unnecessary.

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