OKLAHOMA CITY –A bill changing the makeup of the State Water Resources Board has been approved by the full Senate. Sen. Josh Brecheen said Senate Bill 965 would reconfigure how members are chosen. He said under current law, the way the board members are selected can leave some areas of the state, like southeastern Oklahoma, without representation.
“Current law says the governor must select members by congressional district,” Brecheen, R-Coalgate, said, in a news release. “But that doesn’t mean every part of the state has representation. Right now there are three members representing eastern Oklahoma, but they are all from the Tulsa area. That leaves southeastern Oklahoma with no board members at all to address issues we’re concerned about.”
Under SB 965, the nine members of the board would be selected by regions instead of congressional districts.
“The water issues we’re concerned about in southeastern Oklahoma are completely different from out in western Oklahoma. They rely on irrigation for farming, but that’s not the case here,” Brecheen said. “Issues related to aquifers, watersheds, population demands and economic factors differ by region. That’s why it is so important that the makeup of the board gives all of those geographic areas representation.”
“The drought, population growth, litigation—these are all things that are impacting different parts of the state in different ways,” Brecheen said. “It’s also helping more Oklahomans understand that our water is an increasingly valuable natural resource. Reforming how members of the Water Resources Board are appointed ensures our interests are being represented.”
SB 965 now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.