U.S. Water News Online
OKLAHOMA CITY — Attorney General Drew Edmondson's office asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a North Texas water district that claims it has the right to buy billions of gallons of water in Oklahoma.
The motion was filed in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City in the Tarrant Regional Water District's lawsuit against members of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. The lawsuit, filed two years ago, alleges Oklahoma's moratorium on out-of-state water sales is unconstitutional.
The dismissal motion argues that a new law passed in May effectively repealed the moratorium and that the issue should now be decided by the Red River Compact Commission, which was created by Congress in 1980 to apportion water that flows along the Red River, which divides Oklahoma and Texas, as well as its tributaries.
“To the extent that there are questions regarding the interpretation of the compact, these interpretations must be made, in the first instance, by the Compact Commission, the administrative body with primary jurisdiction over the matter,” the motion says.
The moratorium bars out-of-state water sales until a comprehensive water plan for the state is completed in 2011.
No hearing date was immediately set. The lawsuit is set for trial on Dec. 7.
The water district has applied to purchase up to 150 billion gallons of water from Red River tributaries in southern and southeastern Oklahoma. Oliver has said the district is willing to pay between $15 million and $60 million a year to transport water from Oklahoma to
North Texas, depending upon the volume of water taken.
But he said the district might have free access to the water if it wins the lawsuit. Currently, Oklahoma City transports water for free from southern Oklahoma, and North Texas officials believe their legal case could force the state to treat out-of-state customers the same way.
The water would be transported through pipelines and pumping stations, which will cost between $500 million and $4 billion and take five years to build.
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