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US Supreme Court To Tarrant Water District: Hands Off Oklahoma Water


The US Supreme Court today,  in a unanimous decision, shut down the Tarrant Regional Water District's plan to import water from Oklahoma.

Tarrant officials wanted to capture a share of Red River water inside Oklahoma, before it actually reached the salty, border river and send it through a 125 mile pipeline to North Texas.  They argued that the Red River Compact approved by Congress in 1980 trumped Oklahoma state law and permitted Texas to take its share of Red River surplus water from the Oklahoma side.  The compact says when the Red River and its tributaries exceed a certain level, each of the four compact states - Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana - is entitled to one fourth of the surplus. 

Tarrant officials argued before the Court that Texas can't get its fair share without pumping it from across the border.  They said access on the Texas side was mainly through small tributaries and prevented the state from getting its full 25 percent of surplus.  

Oklahoma argued that its state law clearly prohibited what Tarrant was proposing, and that the water district was just trying to avoid the expense of removing salty minerals that mix with the water once it flows into the main river channel. 

Tarrant Water District officials say pumping the surplus water from inside Oklahoma could satisfy water needs for the entire metroplex through this century. 

But, the Justices agreed that Oklahoma's law stands, and North Texas water providers must look elsewhere.