Supreme Court Backs Oklahoma Over Texas Water District

Published 06/14 2013 04:30PM

Updated 06/14 2013 04:34PM


The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday issued a unanimous ruling for Oklahoma over a North Texas water district in a case over delivery of water from the Red River.

The case, Tarrant Regional Water District v. Herrmann, Rudolf J. et al., pitted fast-growing North Texas against the state of Oklahoma. The Tarrant Regional Water District, which serves Fort Worth and other North Texas communities, wanted to buy water from Oklahoma reservoirs, but Oklahoma passed laws that effectively meant it wouldn't sell.

The Tarrant district sued six years ago and has spent $6 million on the lawsuit, according to water district spokesman Chad Lorance. On Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld a ruling from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"The Compact does not pre-empt the Oklahoma water statutes," Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in the Supreme Court opinion. She was referring to the 1980 Red River Compact, which stipulates that signatory states -- which include Texas and Oklahoma -- get an "equitable" share of water. The Tarrant district wants water flowing south out of Oklahoma, but they say that by the time the water reaches Texas it is essentially unusable, so they want to tap the reservoirs further upstream. Oklahoma state lawmakers have declined their request.

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