Thursday, September 08, 2011

Tenth Circuit rules in favor of Oklahoma in the Red River water fight

On September 7, 2011, the Tenth Circuit affirmed a decision by Judge Joe Heaton of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. The Tenth Circuit ruled that "the Red River Compact insulates Oklahoma water statutes from dormant Commerce Clause challenge insofar as they apply to surface water subject to the Compact." This ruling closes (for now) a chapter on the State of Oklahoma's effort to protect water located within its borders. Counsel for the State of Oklahoma included Prof. Charles T. DuMars of New Mexico, who very skillfully guided the Oklahoma Water Resources Board through the steps necessary to protect the State's surface water under the Red River Compact. The battle over surface water subject to the Red River Compact may not be over yet -- Tarrant Regional Water District may pursue rehearing or certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition, as noted by the Tenth Circuit in its decision, the Court did not have jurisdiction to decide whether Tarrant Regional may take water from sources not covered by the Red River Compact -- such as groundwater.