State Representative Joe Dorman said the current drought conditions are the worst any Oklahoma resident might have seen in his or her lifetime.
“This drought is worse than what we saw in the Dust Bowl, but we have better conservancy practices,” Dorman said.
Drought was just one of the many topics addressed during the first Legislative Coffee of the year, last Friday, sponsored by Duncan Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
Deno Cox moderated the morning event, which also included state tax reform and worker’s compensation discussions.
Cox asked the state legislators — Senator Corey Brooks, Rep. Dennis Johnson, Sen. Don Barrington and Dorman — what they are doing to help improve the water situation, given the current drought conditions.
“Duncan is particular is in better condition than other towns because of long-range planning of our forefathers, so to speak,” Johnson said. “We have enough water supply for about 35,000 people.”
In recent months, the Duncan water supply has been a concern for city leaders. Drought conditions have impacted the volume of water present in Waurika Lake, and Duncan’s lakes are also showing signs of water depletion caused by the drought.
Johnson said he was confident Duncan was doing well with its water supply. He said if there is a problem with Waurika Lake then Duncan does have its four lakes as backup.
A comprehensive water plan has been among the discussions among state representatives, Johnson said, although he’s not sure how complete that plan is yet.
One of the bigger concerns in the legislative chambers is whether Texas should be allowed to purchase any water rights. Johnson said if Oklahomans need water, Texas won’t be allowed to take any.
Brooks and Barrington said water has long been a hot button topic within the Senate. Brooks said disagreements over water have mostly been whether to let Texas purchase any water rights.
Brooks said there have been some work to set up a rainy day fun, or better yet, a drought-relief fund to provide aid during the drought.
Although water is needed throughout the state for drinking, in Stephens County and Southwest Oklahoma, there is also a need of water for agriculture. Dorman and Barrington said the water is important to keeping Oklahoma alive with food and water because of the state’s agriculture.
“You can’t live without water,” Barrington said. “We can’t live without food.”
Barrington said the main thing anyone can do to relieve Oklahoma of drought conditions is to pray for rain.
“Really, we’re in a bad situation,” Barrington said. “We’re the one’s drying up out here.”