The full Senate has given approval to a pair of bills dealing with a study of the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer—the sole water source for much of south-central Oklahoma. State Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada, is the author of the measures.
An earlier five-year study was undertaken in the mid-2000’s. It was the first comprehensive study of the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer and helped determine the maximum annual yield and establish the amount that private owners were entitled to access.
Senate Bill 568 will facilitate a second five-year research project to be conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey and will look at the how the creation of wells or mines affects the aquifer, streams and springs. The data collected will be used to determine how best to manage the aquifer.
“The Arbuckle-Simpson is the only sensitive sole-source aquifer in Oklahoma which means if anything happened, like contamination, 50 percent of the drinking water it currently provides would no longer be available. It’s crucial we have solid data that will help us be the best stewards possible of this resource,” McCortney said. “It’s the single source of reliable water for some 200,000 Oklahomans in communities like Ada, Ardmore, Tishomingo, Durant and many others. More than 70,000 jobs depend on this reliable, yet fragile, source of water.”
SB 568 creates the mechanism to fund a study of the aquifer. SB 702 puts a temporary pause in place for new mining permits in the area of the aquifer until the study is complete.
McCortney said all the stake-holders impacted by the aquifer were at the table, including private property owners, tribes, local communities and industries.
“The cost of the study is still being determined, but will likely be shared between local, state, tribal and federal sources,” McCortney said.
The measures now move to the House.