Oklahoma Country Spring 2017

Page 10


It's time to develop Oklahoma water With an abundant and reliable water supply, Oklahoma can ensure a plentiful food supply and a prosperous economy for the future of the state. hen was the last time Oklahoma significantly invested in its water infrastructure? Former state governor and U.S. Sen. Robert S. Kerr called water a “blessed resource.” Kerr, who lived through the devastating drought and Dust Bowl in the 1930s, understood the significance of an abundant and reliable water supply. He played an instrumental role in the development of current water infrastructure in Oklahoma. But the state’s current water infrastructure needs help. By 2060, Oklahoma will need an estimated $82 billion in water infrastructure improvements and replacements. As the population continues to grow, demand for water also will increase, especially for agriculture. How will Oklahoma ensure it retains an abundant water supply into the future? Water infrastructure must be developed. Water is the lifeblood of Oklahoma. A steady and reliable supply brings basic sustenance to all Oklahomans, allows farmers and ranchers to produce an abundance of safe and healthy food, helps the oil and gas industry grow, and leads to a

thriving state economy. Yet, more than 35 million acre feet flowed out of Oklahoma’s borders each year over the past decade. The entire state uses only about 2 million acre feet of water per year, meaning Oklahoma has access to an unimaginable amount of the precious natural resource but simply allows it to leave the state. As the state’s largest general farm organization, Oklahoma Farm Bureau is committed to developing water infrastructure to benefit all Oklahomans. Drought is cyclical; one of the state’s worst droughts on record ended with a record-breaking rainfall in 2015. Why should any Oklahoman lack for water when a vast supply is within reach? Rather than wasting the priceless commodity, Oklahoma should capture water, store it in reservoirs, replenish underground aquifers, and even build pipelines to connect reservoirs around the state. Oklahoma no longer can wait to take action; the state must begin working today to create a bright future through a plentiful and accessible water supply.

acre feet of water left Oklahoma each year over the past decade.


acre feet of water are used by the entire state each year.

is the largest water user in Oklahoma, using 44 percent. 10 — Oklahoma Country

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