Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Governor Fallin Signs Water Conservation Plan into Law

Governor Fallin on Monday signed into law the Water for 2060 Act, the most comprehensive, ambitious statewide water conservation measure in the United States.  The bill, House Bill 3055, establishes a statewide goal of consuming no more fresh water in 2060 than is consumed currently in the state.  The bill also creates an advisory council that will develop a strategy for achieving the statewide goal, as well as recommendations on more efficient use of existing water supplies, identification of new water supplies and more efficient infrastructure.

According to the 2012 update to the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan, localized shortages and groundwater depletions could become more prevalent in the next 50 years in more than half of the state’s watersheds.

HB 3055, authored by Speaker Kris Steele, places the focus on preserving fresh water through conservation while also looking toward expanding the use of alternative supplies, such as wastewater, brackish water, and other non-potable supplies, in order to meet the needs of the public and the needs of business, industries and agriculture producers.

“To protect this precious natural resource for generations to come, it’s important we look for ways to conserve fresh water,” Fallin said.  “By setting an ambitious water conservation goal and expanding the use of other non-potable supplies, HB 3055 will help ensure we protect our freshwater while helping cities, businesses, industries and agriculture producers find the water resources they need to grow and expand.”

This legislation does not amend the provisions of current law pertaining to water rights or permits to use water.  Instead, it encourages voluntary practices to use water more efficiently and creatively.

Goals of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board are cited in the measure;
1.  Increase the awareness of the public through education programs or public information campaigns regarding the value of our water resources and how water can be used more efficiently;
2.  Provide assistance to communities or entities initiating water conservation plans, programs, and activities and to research and document the potential for improving water use efficiency through demonstration projects and other activities; and
3.  Assist in the development of policies which will encourage the implementation of water conservation measures.

The board will set rules for pilot projects as well. The pilot projects shall be innovative programs that will serve as models for other communities in the state.  Pilot projects may include, but are not limited to, community conservation demonstration projects, water use accounting programs, retrofit projects, school education projects, Xeriscape demonstration gardens, projects which promote efficiency, recycling and reuse of water, and information campaigns on capturing and using harvested rainwater and graywater.

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