Oklahoma water projects have been made possible by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. In particular, the Peoria and Ottawa tribes from North-East Oklahoma were given grants by the said state body to test surface water on the tribal lands (Barringer, par. 2-4). . Scientists took part collaboratively in the Oklahoma water project in designing and carrying out water resource investigations with the local, state and tribal partners (State of Oklahoma Water Resources Board). This was a defining moment for the Native American tribes based on the implications realized. Thus, this term paper highlights the fact that the Native American tribes having carried out the testing of water quality for almost a decade, their sampling efforts have yielded information that has been used to establish a more strong management program for watersheds needed in their regions.
Definition of the Water Rights
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Oklahoma has a well defined set of water rights statues founded on stream water and ground water. The land owner owns the groundwater underlying that land and the surface water on the land. All the same Oklahoma water resources board regulates the use domestically (Barringer, par. 2-4). Stream water is taken as publicly acquired water source and subject to any kind of misuse by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board.
Water Rights Common Law
The federal law is final in water rights cases (Kelly, par. 4-7). The federal court intervenes to deter water exports until water rights are fully assessed and allocated. A lot of research revolves around such projects like the Oklahoma water projects to provide impartial, reliable and timely information to the planners, managers and other clients. The federal water rights common law governs funding emphasizing on regional projects evaluating the conditions of groundwater and surface-water, the manner in which human activities and natural processes affect such conditions over time, and the establishment of new techniques and tools for comprehending complex hydrologic systems.
The Oklahoma Water Rights Controversy
With the ever increasing population growth in Oklahoma, the land use change, the aging infrastructure along with climate change, the state is faced with challenges of water. These factors have increased the need for high quality water sources to be utilized in fish protection, public supply of water among other uses. Approximately, Oklahoma has 55,646 shoreline miles along ponds and lakes (State of Oklahoma Water Resources Board). Again, the state has about 1,401 sq miles with water coverage in the ponds and the lakes as well. Most of the surface water which is about 54% the state uses for the supply of public water (State of Oklahoma Water Resources Board).
a. What it means for the Native American people
Looking the enlisted water challenges, the Oklahoma Water project has had significant implications on the Native Americans who have tested the waters for heavy metals, phosphorous and nitrogen. The historical mining that was carried out in the region for almost a century along with agricultural activities was believed to have introduced chemicals into the waters. These test sites included regions in the SpringRiver, Little Elm Creek, NeoshoRiver and Tar Creek. The grants for the projects were $ 120,000 for the Ottawa tribe and $ 118,000 for the Peoria Tribe (Kelly, par. 3-5).
b. Why it is important? What is the controversy filed
The Oklahoma Water project has not gone without some challenges. For instance, the Chickasaw and Choctaw Indian tribes filed a federal court case to protect the rights to water they alleged were derived from treaties signed in the past and to hinder water exports from their tribal homelands without their consent (Barringer, par. 2-4). The dispute was in existence for about a year from the Sardis lake water export in the South East of Oklahoma to the eponymous city as proposed in 2010.
At some point, OklahomaState was accused by the United States District Court in the city of Oklahoma. The accusations were because of a one-sided action meant to deprive the Native American tribes of their rights to water which they were in possession form the 1830s. The court named the state water agency, the governor and the water utility of the city as defendants in the case. The tribal leaders, however, had a feeling that they were compelled to act by the drought which led to cutbacks in the usage of water even in areas rich in water as well as the declared intention of Oklahoma City to pursue water export from Sardis located about 180 miles away (State of Oklahoma Water Resources Board).
IV. Connections to previous issues with the Native American people and their rights
There have been circles of issues revolving around the city, where the Oklahoma water resources board, at one time, erroneously founded such claims to the distant water along with Governor Fallin on state law. Even though, firm water rights have been hunted for by western tribes, the situation in Oklahoma is not normal mainly because of the geography. The fights on water are more common in the arid areas. The historic treaties of the tribes, when not surviving under a drought are mainly the wet regions. Most of the claims on Indian water include water in or adjacent to already existing reservations; although, the Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes held commonly in Oklahoma was nullified a hundred years ago. The argument made by the lawsuit was that the rights to and regulatory power over treaty territory water resources of the tribes come before everything else, and are imperative for considerations by the state on water rights grounds.
The Oklahoma water project has been one of the many projects that have been utilized in the state to drought monitoring; and help in laying forecasts in drought information systems. The whole nation is plagued by long drought periods and the dwindling weather prediction capabilities. Therefore, the development of effective warning systems of drought early in advance has been an important engagement. Just like the entire nation, Oklahoma is largely vulnerable to the ravages of drought and the likely social and economic impacts more specifically to the Native American tribes living in the state. Drought has now become a normal climate state.
The need to reduce drought impact has been the cry of the Native American tribes. With targeted research, lasting evaluation, and the establishment of instruments that promote the ability to foresee drought, the Oklahoma water project plan has been of great help in this sense. The Oklahoma water project has led to improved water technology mainly bolstered in the wider region. The devastating nature of droughts and health issues has been carefully addressed within the state along with other wrangles of water treaties. The establishment of the Oklahoma water projects and more so to the Native American tribes has had a huge impact. Feasible strategies embodied in the project have made it possible to supply fresh water to the public. The water project of Oklahoma State has opened up channels of development and a real solution addressing the issues of population growth and other factors in the discussed above State.
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