ScissorTales: Oklahoma wise to embrace water reuse, conservation strategies

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: August 2, 2014
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OKLAHOMA received a rare blessing this week — drenching July rains and unseasonable temperatures. Ponds and streams are looking better as a result, including in western parts of the state that have been especially hard hit by three years of drought.

The extended dry spell prompted a bill, approved by the Legislature this year, to help cities and towns stretch their water supplies through reuse and conservation. It directs the state Department of Environmental Quality to lead the way and establish rules and permitting requirements for projects.

State Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, who sponsored the bill with Rep. Scott Martin, R-Norman, told stateline.org that Oklahoma faces water challenges “not just today but looking down the road. … It’s hard to envision a plan that doesn’t require some type of reuse.”

Oklahoma is hardly alone. A Government Accountability Office report this year showed 36 states used reclaimed wastewater in 2013, 10 more than were doing so a decade earlier.

At a water law conference this spring in Oklahoma City, J.D. Strong, executive director of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, noted that conservation was a key component in the 2012 update to the state’s comprehensive water plan. He said recycling water, reusing water and using marginal-quality water when fresh, treated water isn’t needed were some of the strategies that can help Oklahoma meet its long-term needs.

“What we’re suggesting, and I think the Water for 2060 Act suggests, is there are alternatives and solutions that can have a big impact,” he said.

Oklahoma is wise to embrace these ideas: The state needs an adequate water supply to grow and prosper. As we’ve seen all too often through the years, Mother Nature doesn’t consistently hold up her end of the bargain.

On second thought

President Barack Obama won re-election in 2012 with 51 percent of the popular vote, compared with 47 percent for his Republican opponent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Now a growing number of people regret their votes. A new CNN poll found that, if given the chance to conduct the election again, Romney would beat Obama by a margin of 53 percent to 44 percent. This is the second time CNN has found the public cooling to Obama and warming to Romney. A similar poll released in November found, at that time, Romney would have led by 49 percent to 45 percent in the hypothetical rematch. Obama thoroughly demonized Romney in 2012, yet even after that smear job people now find Romney preferable. It appears many Americans are realizing a painful truth: A high price must be paid for buyer’s remorse when it comes to picking presidents.

At odds

The federal government has been paying people to get stoned on marijuana and then drive a car. The project, conducted at the University of Iowa’s National Advanced Driving Simulator, is part of an effort to determine if regulators should set a specific threshold for declaring someone too stoned to drive. This is similar to the drunken-driving threshold. Perhaps such research is necessary now that two states have legalized marijuana. Even so, this controlled experiment isn’t without irony. Take this tidbit from USA Today: “Because the university has a smoke-free campus, the volunteers had to use a vaporizer to consume their marijuana, which was furnished under strict rules by a federal garden at the University of Mississippi.” It’s just another example of the incompatibility of two public policy goals that both have growing support: the drive to make public spaces smoke-free, and the drive to legalize marijuana.

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by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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