Oklahoma House passes bill requiring aquifer study

Wednesday, May 28th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A plan to sell up to 20 million gallons of water a day from the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer to Canadian County was blocked Tuesday by the Oklahoma House.

On a bipartisan 54-45 vote, House members approved a bill that imposes a moratorium on pumping groundwater to a county outside of the aquifer's basin until a comprehensive study is performed.

The legislation's passage handed a political victory to southern Oklahoma residents who believe the water sale could dry up the aquifer that is the only source of water for Ada, Ardmore, Durant and nearby communities.

``It is the sole source of drinking water that supports every city in the area and every home well,'' said Earl Brewer of Tishomingo, president of Citizens for the Protection of the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer.

As many as 200 members of the group, wearing stickers supporting the measure, crowded into the House gallery during debate.

``We don't want to deprive anybody of drinking water. But we don't want to be deprived,'' Brewer said.

A spokesman for landowners who support the sale said the measure may be challenged in court. The bill, narrowly passed by the Senate, will become law if signed by Gov. Brad Henry.

``It's a taking of our private property rights,'' said Bill Jacobs of Sulphur, who owns about 12,000 acres in the area of the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer. ``We'll take it to the highest level.''

The measure is Senate Bill 288.