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Thursday, February 6, 2014

The CLA Continues To Be Active In Fighting For Canton Lake.

The CLA Board of Directors continues to work to change laws and policies that have plunged the Canton Lake Community into the abyss. Although you have not heard much from us publicly, the CLA has been working diligently in the background to represent Canton Lake and its user’s interests. We are having board meetings and discussing future goals and plans to further the organization and to make it’s member’s voices heard.  This forum serves as an update of our activity.


We were very excited to welcome Kermit Raab to our board a few months ago. Kermit works for American Farmers and Ranchers Insurance which is a tremendous organization that has a very large rural voice at our State Capitol. Kermit is also the nephew of Frank Raab, a Canton resident and Oklahoma water pioneer who worked tirelessly to see Canton Lake become a reality many years ago.


We had made plans to attend and have a booth at the Sportsman’s Classic show in Enid to promote the CLA and tell the Canton Lake story to interested sportsmen and women in our area and try and garner support for our cause. Due to lack of overall participation from vendors that show has been postponed.


We have been, and are continuing to be involved in statewide water meetings.  CLA President, Jeff Converse, was an invited presenter at the Out-of-Basin Water Transfers Roundtable at the Governor’s Water Conference in October.  He made the case that water transfers between lakes (e.g. Canton Lake to Lakes Hefner and Overholser) should no longer be allowed anywhere in the state because of the inequities and inefficiencies involved in those transfers.  
Several board members have been regulars at quarterly meetings hosted by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board dealing with issues such as “Water for 2060” ( the statewide water plan/goal of using no more water in the year 2060 than we do today) and “Instream Flows” which is a program to help reestablish and maintain reliable flows in streams and rivers around the state.  
The importance of being involved in the “water business” on the statewide level cannot be overemphasized.  The key to solving the long term problems faced by the Canton Lake Community is in the trickle down effect of policies set and/or laws made on the state or even federal level.  This process is very slow but we must continue and maintain the effort.   


Many exciting things are happening with grassroots water groups from around the state.  We are being invited to form alliances and be a part of various organizations who are also fighting for water rights throughout our state. Besides our alliance with Oklahomans for Responsible Water Policy (ORWP), we have also been contacted by Save Lake Texoma. Many small lake associations like the CLA are beginning to pop up all over the state.  
The longer term goal is to attempt to merge the small associations into one larger group, perhaps under the umbrella of ORWP.  The key is that we need numbers to have a stronger voice to effect change in lawmaking and water policy.  Alliance with other groups will make us stronger.  


The northwest region of the state is taking a major step towards management and use of its’ fresh waters by developing a Northwest Region Water Plan which is a subset of the larger statewide “Water for 2060” goal outlined in the statewide 2012 Water Plan.


We have been invited to participate and have a voice in the North West Water Action Team, an organization made up of policymakers and groups from all over northwest Oklahoma, whose goal is to develop Northwest Water Action Plan.  The end result of this collaboration will be a document or “plan” that will define how, when, where and why water is used throughout northwest Oklahoma through the year 2060.   


We are pleased to be meeting with the new leader of the Tulsa District of the Corps of Engineers, Colonel Richard Pratt.  Col. Pratt replaced former leader Colonel Michael Teague last summer and is now overseeing the district that is responsible for Canton Lake. Col. Pratt will be coming to Canton in March to speak at the Chamber of Commerce Banquet and has requested a meeting with the CLA Board of Directors to do a sightseeing tour at the lake.  This will be a great opportunity for the CLA Board to express its concerns to Col. Pratt while standing beside a dry Canton Lake.  One of the challenges with establishing a long term relationship with the Colonels, is they only serve a 3 year term in that position then they move on and are replaced. While each Col. is in the position of overseeing Canton Lake, we will work to have a positive working relationship with them and make sure they are well aware of the concerns of the CLA members.


One thing is becoming abundantly clear, water is becoming a dominant issue in our state and it is shaping up to be a rural vs metro battle. We must unite with the many rural water rights groups that share our common vision for rural water protected from metro control.  Unification with the numerous small and large water rights organizations may be the only hope we have to have to produce a large enough voice to be heard by the powers that be.  This is a long term fight that requires extreme patience. We knew this was going to be a long term battle when we took it on and we are prepared to stay the course.  You can rest assured that although everything the CLA does in not in public, we continue the fight for the well-being of the Canton Lake Community each and every day and have no intentions of letting up anytime soon.     


It's also worth mentioning the boat ramp at Big Bend was extended thanks to efforts and funding from the CLA, generous businesses and the Canton Corp of Engineers employees. So that's two boat ramps that have had extensions added due thanks in part to the CLA. One in the Canadian area and the other in Big Bend. We have also continued to work with the Wildlife  Fisheries Dept. and placed more safe, man made plastic structures for fish habitat in the lake. This should help improve angler's experiences once the lake refills. We can't do anything about the lake level at this point, but we can work to make the lake better for when we get more water.






 CLA Board Members work in conjunction with local Corp of Engineers employees to extend a boat ramp in Big Bend.

CLA members working with volunteers and the OK Dept of Wildlife Fisheries Dept to install man made fish habitat. This was the second round of fish habitat installed by the CLA.















CLA Board Members met with the Newly Elected Governor of the C & A Tribes

On January 24th, 2014 some members of the CLA Board of Directors made the trip to Concho to meet with the newly elected Governor of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, Mr. Eddie Hamilton.  One of the main items discussed was the mutual concern for the Tribe’s water rights in Canton Lake, and how an alliance between the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe and the CLA could prove beneficial to everyone with an interest in seeing Canton Lake maintain healthy water levels.

The meeting was also attended by other delegates from the tribe, and all in attendance showed a sincere concern for the unclaimed water rights that the Tribe has to the water residing in Canton Lake. The CLA members shared some of their past and continued efforts, and the vision they have for working toward specific goals in maintaining a certain healthy level of water in the lake. They also discussed the Tribe's potential role in helping attain that goal through the use of claiming their water rights which seem to have been unrecognized by OKC and the Corp of Engineers when they entered into the contract for Canton Lake Water.

The C & A Tribe owns land adjoining the lake yet had no seat at the table in the negotiations and no voice previously in the development of the current contract between the Corp and OKC. We feel this is a terrible oversight on the part of the parties involved and hope to have the contract revisited to consider the water rights of the C & A people.

The Native Americans hold water sacred and use it in many of their tribal ceremonies. It has always been held as one of the greatest natural resources in their culture.

The CLA looks forward to furthering this relationship with the C & A Tribe and in joining with them to fight for the water in Canton Lake. We will keep you updated on further conversations between the two groups.

Please see the attached photo below.

Photo taken in the Conference room at the C & A Tribe Headquarters of a mural on the wall depicting a religious ceremony with a pail of water on the right showing how sacred water is to the Native American people. It is a major part in most all of their ceremonies.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Link to article about Lake Texoma Experiencing Negative Impacts of the Long Term Drought.

http://www.swt.usace.army.mil/Media/NewsReleases/tabid/4954/Article/21091/lake-texoma-experiencing-negative-impacts-of-long-term-drought.aspx

Journal-Record Scott Carter Article with Members of the Oklahoman's for Responsible Water Policy

Published on September 19th, 2013
Written by: M. Scott Carter
FORT WORTH, Texas – In Fort Worth, Texas, municipal water rates are expected to rise by about 5 percent in 2014. In addition, sewer rates are expected to increase by about 4 percent next year.
The reason: higher raw water rates from the Tarrant Regional Water District and a softer demand for water.
Just about two months after the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 9-0 against the Tarrant Regional Water District’s efforts to take water from inside Oklahoma’s borders, published reports show that water demand in at least one major city served by the district has been declining, and the city’s population growth estimates were wrong.
Although the information comes after Tarrant’s efforts to take Oklahoma water were unsuccessful, Texas water officials have long touted the need for new water supplies, saying the state’s population growth would outpace its existing water supplies.
In fact, in its brief filed with the Supreme Court, the TRWD stressed the need for water in the Lone Star State, in part, by arguing that the state’s population and water consumption were growing dramatically.
“Water use in the region has increased in recent years, primarily in response to increasing population and municipal use,” the TRWD claimed  in the brief.
However, according to one Texas newspaper, the demand for water has been flat or down in at least one major city served by the TRWD.
The same goes for sewer rates.
“We got a little overoptimistic on our growth estimates and they didn’t materialize,” Fort Worth Water Director Frank Crumb said to the Star-Telegram newspaper. “So we’re trying to get that back in line and correct it.”
Telephone calls to Crumb were not returned. But Crumb told the Texas newspaper that increased conservation efforts, more water-efficient appliances and new construction codes had caused water usage in Fort Worth to remain the same or decrease.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter Scott Nishimura said Crumb made similar statements in 2012.
“The trend toward water conservation is ongoing,” Nishimura said in an interview with The Journal Record.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price told the newspaper that the city’s growth continues, but she, too, agreed that water usage had declined.
“While we’re driving down usage, the growth in the city is going up,” Price said.
That information has the executive director of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board scratching his head.
“They may have overshot their demand projections,” said J.D. Strong. “We knew they were getting more efficient.”
Had the state known that Fort Worth’s demand for raw water had declined, Strong said, that information would have been included in its arguments against Tarrant Regional’s lawsuit.
“If we had known that at the time, we would have rolled it into our litigation,” Strong said.
State Sen. Jerry Ellis, D-Valliant, agreed. Ellis, whose district lies in southeastern Oklahoma, said the idea that there were thousands of thirsty Texans needing water was a long-held myth.
“There’s never been any thirsty Texans,” Ellis said. “They would come to me and they would beg, then they’d threaten and then say that we must either sell them water or they’d come and take us to court and get it for free.”
Texas’ water problem, Ellis said, is that too many residents water the sidewalk.
“They want us to be a bunch of dumb Okies and give them our water for pennies on the dollar,” Ellis said. “But they don’t use their water wisely.”
At least one report supports Ellis’ claim. According to a 2011 study from the Texas Water Development Board, about 31 percent of the state’s single-family residential annual water consumption is dedicated for outdoor purposes.
The study found that the average single-family household used 361 gallons per day. Of that figure, study authors said, about 190 gallons per household or 53 percent of single-family water use went for outdoor use, while 171 gallons per household per day – 47 percent – was for indoor use.
“Average annual indoor use per household was 62,000 gallons while outdoor use was 70,000 gallons,” study authors wrote.
Still, for Tarrant Regional, obtaining water from Oklahoma was an important, if not critical, component of securing an adequate supply of water for a growing area served by water utility. However, even while it pushed its efforts in court – and in the Oklahoma Legislature – to secure Sooner State water, Tarrant also had other plans for locking down other water sources.
Right now the water district is spending $2.3 billion to build a 90-mile pipeline from eastern Texas to Tarrant County as part of its Integrated Pipeline Project.
Developed in the 1980s, the project partners the TRWD with the city of Dallas to pipe water from several east Texas reservoirs to Tarrant. The first phase, which would connect Tarrant with Cedar Creek Lake, is expected to be completed in 2021.
“It’s like the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing,” said Charlette Hearne, president of the group Oklahomans for Responsible Water Policy. “Why would they spend millions of dollars to fight us in a federal lawsuit and have all these lobbyists at the Capitol when their usage is declining? It’s very surprising.