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From the Director

From the Director is a column published in the agency's quarterly newsletter, the Oklahoma Water News. The column provides the OWRB Executive Director an opportunity to share a unique viewpoint on pertinent state water issues and discuss various OWRB activities and events.

3rd Quarter 2018

The summer of 2018 ended with enough significant rainfall to pull most of the state out of drought conditions. We closed out the period at about 130% of normal rainfall statewide. Drought coverage dropped from more than 50 percent of the state at the beginning of July to less than 10 percent by the end of September. All but the Northeast region were well above normal rainfall for the quarter, which meant welcome relief for farmers, lake managers, and many others. The Oklahoma Mesonet site at Fittstown recorded 14.2 inches of rain on Sept. 21, the highest total in the 25-year history of the Mesonet. The rain totals that day represent a greater than 1,000-year 24-hour event, according to the Oklahoma Conservation Commission and USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Preparations are well underway for the annual Governor's Water Conference and Research Symposium, which will be held December 5-6 at the Reed Conference Center in Midwest City. This event is co-hosted by the OWRB and OSU's Oklahoma Water Resources Center. OWRB Chairman Jason Hitch and Governor Mary Fallin will kick off the event, followed by a presentation of the second round of Water for 2060 Excellence Awards. After publication of the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan (OCWP) update in 2012, the Oklahoma Legislature and Governor Fallin enacted the Water for 2060 Act, which set the stage for broad water infrastructure efficiency and development of untapped marginal water supplies to meet future population, economic, and environmental demands. Recognition for excellence in helping to meet the statewide Water for 2060 goal was a recommendation of the Water for 2060 Advisory Council Report, published in 2015.

From support for development of the OCWP, continued funding for the implementation of priority recommendations, passage of the Water for 2060 Act and other recent key pieces of legislation, and creation of the Produced Water Working Group, to support for water monitoring networks that inform policy and spending decisions, Governor Fallin and the Oklahoma Legislature have demonstrated time and again their forward-thinking commitment to the management and protection of Oklahoma's vital water resources. It will be an honor during the conference to thank them for their service.

Throughout the conference, attendees will hear from industry experts, members of Oklahoma's congressional and state legislative delegations, agency partners, and researchers. The first concurrent session of the Water Conference, Opportunities for Marginal Quality Water Use, will highlight recent policy allowing for use of untapped sources, followed by success stories on the development of produced water, stormwater, treated effluent, and brackish groundwater from the Groundwater Protection Council, Oklahoma Water Survey, Texas Water Development Board, and Fort Sill Army Base.

The luncheon will feature a legislative update and presentation of the prestigious Oklahoma Water Pioneer awards. The afternoon session will focus on Innovations in Agriculture Water Use, including presentations on conservation and soil health by Oklahoma farmers, the Noble Research Institute, and Oklahoma State University. During the afternoon plenary session, Darren Thompson with the San Antonio Water System will share how the city met unprecedented population growth by diversifying its water sources.

The second day will open with a technology showcase featuring presentations by Oklahoma State University's Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Professor Jamey Jacob and the Trinity River Authority's GIS team, Monique Nava and Chad Holton.

Session three, Maximizing Storage Capacity, will highlight aspects of maintaining Oklahoma's critical water storage reservoirs that provide flood control and drought relief, watershed dam rehabilitation, larger-scale lake dredging, and nonpoint source management, by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Waurika Lake Master Conservancy District, and Oklahoma Conservation Commission.

Chad Pregracke, founder of the internationally renowned nonprofit river clean-up organization, Living Lands and Waters, will present the lunch address on December 6th. His story of humble beginnings on the Mississippi River, and the difference one person can make, is genuine and moving.

The final session, Leveraging Partnerships for Water Solutions, will showcase successful partnerships to meet water challenges through cooperation presented by East Central University's Oka' Institute and Chickasaw Nation, the Walton Foundation, and the US Bureau of Reclamation.

I especially want to thank our generous sponsors and presenters without whom Governor's Water Conference and Research Symposium would not be possible. I encourage everyone to join us for this informative and engaging event and look forward to seeing you there. Go to www.owrb.ok.gov/gwc to register or to view the draft agenda.

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Last updated: December 11, 2020

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