Texas wants to redraw border with Oklahoma

The established boundary between Oklahoma and Texas has been in place 13 years and was approved by Congress. But Texas lawmakers are looking to move the line one more time.
BY JONATHAN SUTTON Modified: December 10, 2013 at 10:00 pm •  Published: December 9, 2013

Denise Hickey steps on the small, orange circle painted on the floor and looks across the room at the massive water pumps collecting dust and cobwebs.

Hickey, the spokeswoman for the North Texas Municipal Water District, stands with one foot in Texas, the other in Oklahoma.

This small circle and another two at a Lake Texoma water pumping station represent survey points and form a small section of the border between the states.

This section has hampered the station for the past four years, leaving the North Texas Municipal Water District without nearly a third of its water supply. District officials are hopeful of being able to fire up all the pumps early next year.

The innocuous circles are the result of a 2000 agreement between the two states intended to settle a long-standing border dispute. But it isn't over quite yet.

“I know they didn't realize this would be the result,” Hickey said. “But it happened, so now we have to go back and get it corrected.”

The established boundary between Oklahoma and Texas has been in place 13 years and was approved by Congress. But Texas lawmakers are looking to move the line one more time.

Missing map

In 2000, Oklahoma and Texas agreed to the Red River Boundary Compact, which established the border as the vegetation line on the south bank of the Red River.

The agreement was approved by both state legislatures and ratified by Congress.

This seemed to end the squabbling that has lead to armed confrontations and two Supreme Court cases during the past 100 years.

But when it came to drawing the boundary at Lake Texoma, the Red River Boundary Commission looked to draw the line where the south bank had been before the lake was created in 1939.

However, the U.S. Geological Survey map needed for defining that bank was, and still is, nowhere to be found.

Instead, the commission used geological survey maps from the 1970s and 1980s and plotted 325 coordinates across the lake. This would become the official border.

However, in an unintended consequence, that line cut straight through a water pumping station that juts out onto the lake and provides 28 percent of the water for northern Texas cities like Wylie, Plano, Richardson, Allen, McKinney and Frisco.

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