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Oklahoma City 2013: Water rights could be year's biggest issue

Of all the issues facing Oklahoma City in 2013, the contentious water rights lawsuit may be the most important.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD zcampfield@opubco.com Published: December 17, 2012
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/articleid/3737975/1/pictures/1908371">Photo - This photo looking south from Devon Tower shows the proposed site for the MAPS 3 convention center south of Myriad Gardens and west of Chesapeake Energy Arena. City officials hope to purchase the property, an old Ford dealership, in 2013, and advance the design process.
This photo looking south from Devon Tower shows the proposed site for the MAPS 3 convention center south of Myriad Gardens and west of Chesapeake Energy Arena. City officials hope to purchase the property, an old Ford dealership, in 2013, and advance the design process.

The basin also includes Lake Atoka and McGee Creek Reservoir, of which the city is permitted 131,000 acre feet of water, compared to 80,000 acre feet from its original source, the North Canadian River system.

Last year, the city used more than 157,000 acre feet of water.

“It's critical today and it's critical for the future,” Couch said of the Kiamichi basin.

Brian Vance, spokesman for the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, said current talks are taking place during a 60-day stay approved by a district judge. The stay is the third one allowed by the courts since talks stalled earlier in 2012.

“Talks are progressive, at least to the level that both sides have agreed to extend the negotiations, so I think both sides remain hopeful that there will be some sort of resolution,” Vance said.

But while a settlement agreement is possible in 2013, it will be some time before the litigation is over. Any settlement agreement adopted next year will ultimately need approval from U.S. Congress and could take years to finally resolve.


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