Editor's Log: Feast Or Famine

By Robert Carpenter, Editor | July 2013, Vol. 68, No. 7

In short, Tarrant County wanted to construct a major water pipeline to transport water from a Red River tributary, thus securing ample water supply to accommodate the continued prosperous growth of the region. While certain entities expressed a willingness to sell water to Tarrant County, the Oklahoma Water Resources Board not surprisingly blocked that action, citing the need to divert water back to Oklahoma when needed. Or course, Tarrant County needed a secure, steady water supply.

A lawsuit resulted that eventually landed in the U.S. Supreme Court. In June, the high court unanimously upheld a lower court ruling that the various tenants of the Red River Compact (an agreement between Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana allocating water rights with the Red River basin) were not violated or in need of modification. In essence, Oklahoma gets to keep its water within the parameters of the Red River Compact.

It’s a blow to long-term water supply plans for Tarrant County. They’ll turn elsewhere, to be sure, but such procurement or development of major water supplies is very difficult and elusive in today’s world of ever-tightening water supply. This historic court case, combined with other recent rulings and related litigation still being tried, are slowly building a better picture of how our country will be divvying up water resources over the next 50 to 100 years.

This multitude of lawsuits regarding water rights points to the actual (near-term) and perceived (long-term) value, significance and benefits of procuring an ample water supply. Municipalities and water districts – at least those with foresight – are scrambling to secure their areas economic futures.

Water is truly the elixir of life to sustain hopes of long-term prosperity by any community, large or small.