For the second time in less than a year, a federal judge has granted a motion to dismiss Fort Worth's lawsuit for Oklahoma water.
Tarrant Regional Water District's lawsuit to acquire water from Oklahoma. The idea has been flawed from the beginning. First of all, the legal contract of the Apache Tribe, turned out not to be a legal contract at all, but simply a letter of understanding that they might agree to do something, sometime, in the future. Some observers think it pretty "thin", for a water board to use to supply water to a city that is in a desperate effort to get new water before Ft.Worth's consumption outraces supply.
U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton's ruling will cause the lawsuit back into the U.S. 10th Court of Appeals in Denver."The action is welcomed by TRWD as the matter can now be expedited to the appeals court, which will make the ultimate decisions in the case," said Jim Oliver, general manager of the water district. "Today's ruling sets a clear path for us to continue to vigorously affirm our right to acquire water in Oklahoma." Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson said the ruling was Heaton's "final judgment in this case so Tarrant's only option is an appeal to the 10th Circuit." And Oklahoma Secretary of the Environment J.D. Strong said the judge's ruling "strengthens Oklahoma's right to control the use of its most precious natural resource and enables the state to meet its interstate water obligations."
There are a few facts the Water Board seems to be blindly ignoring.
"We only appreciate the value of water, when the well goes dry." Benjamin Franklin
The Ft.Worth Water Board is good at pulling political strings in Austin, and in Washington to get it's way, but this time, it seems that Oklahoma has the legal advantage.
TIME FOR NEW THINKING
The Tarrant water district is seeking to divert more than 130 billion gallons of water from river basins just north of the Red River and provide it to the region's growing population, which is expected to hit 4.3 million by 2060. The water district is using old water system thinking, in a time when we need more progressive measures. As Soloman wrote in his new book: Water, "Every civilization that relies upon old methods and doesn't use new technology and concepts, falls into decline." The Fort Worth Water Board, and water boards throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, even up to Montana are going to have to broaden their vision.
The water district filed permit applications in 2007 to capture water from three river basins in south central and southeastern Oklahoma before it enters the Red River and takes on too much salt to be drinkable. Ft. Worth has been denied and thwarted.
Simultaneously, the district also sued the Oklahoma Water Resources Board and the Oklahoma Water Conservation Storage Commission to keep their permits from being dismissed while the matter was in court. Joining the district's legal fight were three other Metroplex water providers:
Dallas Water Utilities, the North Texas Municipal Water District and the Upper Trinity Regional Water District.
Oklahoma sought to dismiss the case and appealed all the way to the Denver court, which in 2008 sent the case back to Heaton, saying it should continue.
But in November, Heaton dealt the water district's case a serious blow by partially dismissing it, while allowing the parties to file amended complaints. Even the judge sees the weakness in this case.
In a "politically correct" move, due to pressure from Ft.Worth, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a brief in...