U.S. Water News Online
DENVER — A Texas water district has won a court decision in its lawsuit over Oklahoma's ban on out-of-state water sales.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver has denied a request by Oklahoma to throw out the lawsuit filed by the Tarrant Regional Water District in Fort Worth.
The judges also wrote that Oklahoma does not own the water located in the state.
The lawsuit claims Oklahoma's ban on selling water to out-of-state interests is unconstitutional.
A spokesman for Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson said the office is reviewing the decision.
A spokesman for the Oklahoma Water Resources Board said the panel would meet with the attorney general's staff and decide what to do next.
The Tarrant Regional Water District said the court decision is the most important legal victory yet in its fight to get water it says would otherwise would flow into the Gulf of Mexico.
Jim Oliver, general manager of the Tarrant Regional Water District, said: “In my opinion, the court is signaling to the Oklahoma Legislature that they can't just hoard water.”
However, the district acknowledged that the decision of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals does not bear upon the merits of the district's lawsuit.
The appellate judges had a narrow issue before them: the contention of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board that U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton in Oklahoma City a year ago erred in refusing its request to throw out Tarrant's lawsuit.
The lawsuit is part of a larger simmering battle between the two states over Oklahoma water. Oklahoma has an abundance of water flowing from the Kiamichi River and two smaller rivers in southeastern Oklahoma.
North Texas wants to build an extensive pipeline to capture Oklahoma's water before it mixes with salty water in the Red River.
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