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M o n da y, m a y 6 , 2 013 • f i n a l s w e e k e d i t i o n

Looking back: Top 10 movies of the year

Year in Review: Top five sports moments

Golfers await news of tournament fate

L&A: From fall 2012 to now, these movies packed theaters nationwide. (Page B4)

Sports: The Daily’s sports staff lists OU’s five best moments from the spring 2013 season. (Page B2)

Sports: The OU men’s golf team prepares for the Men’s Golf Tournament Selection show at 8 tonight. (Page B3)

THE W WATER PROJECT

ith the central U.S. facing several years of severe droughts and looming questions about how best to protect water resources, Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communications launched the “Water: A National Crisis” project to explore water issues and showcase the work of college journalists.

Find more water project stories on OUDaily.com and Routes.ou.edu

Court weighs in on water conflict Oklahoma, Texas debate which state needs more water from Red River Alexa Youssef For The Daily

For the second year in a row, the Oklahoma Legislature has rejected proposals to give citizens a more active role in shaping water policy by creating regional planning groups across the state. Three bills authorizing creation of regional planning groups failed to win committee approval by a Feb. 28 deadline, meaning they can’t be considered in the 2013 legislative session. Senate Bill 800 and House Bills 1517 and 1274 would have allowed citizens to serve in an advisory position when it comes to allocating water resources and voicing their water policy concerns. The groups would have been divided by region so that no part of the state would be overlooked. “These regional water planning groups were advisory only,” said Rep. Brian Renegar, D-McAlester, author of one of the bills. “They had no ability to form any rules or regulations. They were advisory groups for their area, their concerns and their desires. It was to give them a voice.” For now, it appears Oklahomans will have to pursue another method when it comes to providing input in the state’s water debate. Renegar said he was frustrated none of the bills made it out of committee but not surprised. The idea of regional planning groups is not a new one in Oklahoma. Last session, the Oklahoma Water Resources Board worked with Renegar and other legislators to support “They were similar legislation that would advisory groups have created 13 regional planfor their area, ning groups across the state. Oklahoma’s poputheir concerns listDespite roots, proposals to create and their desires. regional water boards have been stalled in the legislature It was to give because of concerns about them a voice.” the power these groups might wield, said J.D. Strong, Water Rep. Brian Renegar, Board Executive Director. D-McAlester “This is about grassroots engagement in water planning, and [board] and the authors specifically stressed this is planning only,” Strong said. “There is a fear, though, that has been expressed statewide that there is a slippery slope and these advisory groups would devolve into something regulatory.” Renegar said concern has been aired by organizations such as the Oklahoma Municipal League, the State Chamber of Oklahoma and several farming groups that are reluctant to give citizens a bigger role in the process. “It’s not that these groups want to leave the citizens out,” Renegar says. “They just want the control.” Renegar said the Municipal League wants cities to be in control, the State Chamber represents the interests of business and industry, and agricultural groups are concerned about farmers who use water for irrigation. The power these groups hold in the legislature have hindered the progress of bills that propose the use of citizen planning groups, he said. “Here in Oklahoma, the State Chamber, some of the agricultural groups and [the Oklahoma Municipal League] have more of the power,” Renegar said. “The kiss of death on any bill here is to have the [league], or the State Chamber, or one of the farming groups to be against it.” The State Chamber and Municipal League did not respond to a request for comment. While Oklahoma has balked at creating such groups, Texas has embraced them since the 1990s, said Dan Hardin, director of water resources planning at the Texas Water Development Board. “In the mid-‘90s, we had severe drought years in Texas, and several small communities were faced with water emergencies,” Hardin said. “Legislation was passed to make water planning come from bottom up.”

Heather Brown/the daily

A dried area of Lake Thunderbird is revealed as water levels decrease. Lake Thunderbird has receded eight feet in the last 10 years, a historical low. This is one example of Oklahoma’s severe drought.

Lake Thunderbird: Dried up Community concerned about city water supply

surely drying up. Crook said the conditions at Lake Thunderbird have not only affected the cities of Norman, Del City and Jess Bruno & Shelby Stiner Midwest City by reducing the water For The Daily supply, but have also affected the “What are you going to do when community and many farmers and they tell you you can’t take a show- cattlemen. er?” said Michael Crook, who lives “All the lakes in the area are real near Lake Thunderbird. bad. Lots of the farm ponds have toLake Thunderbird is eight feet tally dried up. A lot of the cattlemen lower than it was 10 years ago, ac- are having to sell their cattle. Two cording to the U.S. Army Corps years ago I had to sell my herd off beof Engineers. And if Oklahoma’s cause of the drought and the feed. So drought conditions don’t improve, it’s gonna hurt everybody, it already is it’s possible the lake could run out and if it continues it’s going to get real of water in a few years. real bad. And when people run out of One Thunderbird park ranger, water, what then? ” Crook said. Eric Taylor, says that Oklahoma goes According to Crook, Lake through a drought period cycling Thunderbird needs as much help as back around through it can get at the moment. “It’s gonna be Norman has been imto a drought every 10 to 15 years, but right now up to Mother porting water from Lake Lake Thunderbird is at Atoka, located about Nature I think if 100 miles s outheast, a historical low C ro o k , a V i e t n a m we get through it in order to supply the war veteran, is a Lake lake with water to make or not.” Thunderbird regular. even a small portion of it He and his wife, Debbie, survive. Michael Crook, have lived near the lake “Lake Atoka can only Lake Thunderbird for 30 years and have support Thunderbird regular enjoyed fishing, boating for so long and then they and much quality time won’t have any water to at their favorite waterfront. They’re put in it and then what’s going to hapnow dedicating time to help clean pen? Who knows? It can’t be good. If up the lake. this continues for three or four or five “Now that the lake is going down, more years it’ll be real bad,” Crook my wife and I were out here last said. “There’s a lot more water in it Sunday and we were picking and now than there was but they’re having bagging stuff up,” Crook said. “There to import it. So it’s not helping the sitare certain areas that are real bad. uation now that we’re in.” All the cans and plastic are not good But the drought isn’t being caused for the fish, it’s not good for anything solely by limited rain, there also are and it’s our drinking water.” issues with supply and demand for Lake Thunderbird, which sup- large populations surrounding bodies plies drinking water to Norman and of water. surrounding cities, is slowly but Eric Taylor said the growth of the

population size has tripled and the demand for water is greatest when the supply is at slimmest. “People should try to be optimistic,” Taylor said. Members of the Norman community, such as Crook, are skeptical of the success of the water conservation plan. OU professor Baxter Vieux shared his thoughts on Norman’s water conservation plan at the second day of the Water a National Crisis panel. He emphasized the society’s involvement in water conversation. “It is a societal choice. Often times people aren’t willing to making those hard choices. It’s also hard to convince the legislature or some other funding entity to give them money to solve water problems if they haven’t made the first choice themselves,” Vieux said. Vieux believes a new reservoir site in Southeast Oklahoma is needed and to build a pipeline put it into Lake Thunderbird could cost $300,000 to $500,000. “If the drought continues and we still need to have these water restrictions than we will wish we started even earlier,” Vieux said. Beyond water conservation, Crook and other residents of the community surrounding Lake Thunderbird simply are hoping for some frequent rain patterns to replenish the lake and increase the water supply. “It’s gonna depend on the weather. The biggest part of it will because people don’t conserve like they should. And it’s gonna be up to Mother Nature I think if we get through it or not,” Crook said. “If the weather patterns continue things are gonna worsen.”


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