OCWP Newsletter - August 2023

August 2023 Newsletter
Action Items

Attend one of the OCWP regional meetings August 15-31. In-person meetings are set for five locations around the state, and two virtual meetings are scheduled for those who cannot attend in person.

Take the OCWP Public Outreach Survey. Share your priorities, concerns, and how the OCWP can provide value to you. It is estimated to take between 5 and 10 minutes to complete. Share the link with a friend, a colleague, and your social media connections!

Utility Providers: the Water Supply Infrastructure Needs Survey (WSINS) provides critical technical information necessary to understand local needs, develop potential water management solutions, and support efforts to secure additional funding. If you are a public water provider (municipal or rural water) and have not completed this survey, please fill it out by August 31.

August OCWP

Lake Hefner Lighthouse in Oklahoma City

The Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan (OCWP) is coming to an area near you! See dates and locations below.

In case you missed it, KOSU aired an interview with the OWRB's director of planning, Owen Mills. Owen discussed statewide supply and demand projections that are being calculated as part of the 2025 OCWP. He stressed the importance of public participation in the upcoming meetings to assist the planning team with the development of creative solutions for addressing future water shortages. He also talked about workforce issues in the water treatment industry. This is one of several new issues being addressed by the 2025 plan.

Celebrate National Water Quality Month with us! Just try to imagine what life would be like without easy access to clean water. Consider how important Oklahoma’s water resources are both to humans and the other inhabitants of these ecosystems.

OCWP Round 1 Regional Meetings

Beginning next week, stakeholder input meetings focusing on the 2025 OCWP update will be held in locations across the state. Join us to share your thoughts on how the OCWP can address the following issues:

  • Identifying the most pressing water issues and policy needs in your area.
  • Guiding the identification and deployment of solutions to those issues and needs.
  • Charting a course toward reliable, resilient water management in your area and statewide.

Round 1 Meeting Schedule:

August 15 | Southwest Technology Center
711 West Tamarack Road, Altus, OK  
Water Professionals Session – 2:00-4:00 pm
Public Session – 5:30-7:00 pm     

August 16 | Chickasaw Nation Community Center
700 North Mississippi Avenue, Ada, OK
Water Professionals Session – 2:00-4:00 pm 
Public Session – 5:30-7:00 pm  

August 17 | Dr. Carolyn Taylor Center
Rogers State University, 
Claremore, OK 
Water Professionals Session – 2:00-4:00 pm  
Public Session – 5:30-7:00 pm  

August 18 | Virtual meeting – 9:00-11:00 am

August 29 | High Plains Technology Center
3921 34th Street, Woodward, OK
Water Professionals Session – 2:00-4:00 pm
Public Session – 5:30-7:00 pm  

August 30 | OSU-Oklahoma City
9900 North Portland Avenue
Student Center Building 3rd Floor, Oklahoma City, OK
Water Professionals Session – 2:00-4:00 pm
Public Session – 5:30-7:00 pm

August 31 | Virtual meeting – 1:00-3:00 pm

Round 1 Meeting Sessions:

Water Professionals sessions are targeted toward local officials, water utility suppliers, regulated industry, commercial agricultural producers, economic development entities, and representing organizations. Each session will cover the following topics:

  • 2025 OCWP status and roadmap for future engagement meetings.
  • Quick review of implementation of 2012 stakeholder recommendations and resulting state legislation and investment.
  • Quick review of preliminary findings of 2025 Water Provider and Public Engagement surveys.
  • Group discussion of the most pressing issues that may impact water, economic growth, and quality of life in your region.
  • Participant ideas and suggestions on the next generation of regional/statewide stakeholder recommendations to be included in the 2025 OCWP.
  • Anticipated timing and topics for the next round of regional meetings.

Public sessions are targeted toward the general public and will cover the following topics:

  • OWRB–who we are and what we do.
  • OCWP–history, 2012 OCWP recommendations and achievements, status of current update to the OCWP.
  • Public feedback.

Virtual sessions will cover the following topics:

  • OWRB–who we are and what we do.
  • OCWP–history, 2012 OCWP recommendations and achievements, status of current update to the OCWP.
  • 2025 OCWP preliminary findings and actions underway.
  • Discussion of water management needs and concerns.
  • Looking ahead: the OCWP roadmap.
  • Public feedback.


What’s Going on in Other States

Water Reuse in Oregon. The WateReuse Association reports that, “As part of a major water package, the Oregon State House and Senate adopted several provisions that will promote water reuse throughout the state. Adopted by the legislature on June 24, HB2010 directs the state’s Department of Environmental Quality and the Water Resources Department to identify regulatory and other barriers limiting the expansion of water reuse and develop technical assistance resources to expand reuse and recycled water programs within the state. The departments will also develop guidance for local jurisdictions and other organizations on how to seek permitting and development of recycled water. By September 2024, the departments shall be required to identify the changes made and any recommended changes that will require the Legislative Assembly to create new laws or amend existing laws that would further remove impediments to water reuse. The legislation also appropriates over $250,000 to fund a staff position for the Water Resources Department. The bill now moves forward for the governor’s signature. Representatives from WateReuse Pacific Northwest were instrumental in the development of these provisions.” Read Oregon's HB2010.

Western States Water Council’s June 16, 2023, newsletter has an article about Texas SB28, which creates a New Water Supply for Texas Fund to finance projects that will lead to seven million acre-feet of new water supplies by December 31, 2033. Potential projects include desalination, produced water treatment, aquifer storage and recovery, and water transportation infrastructure. Qualifying projects can receive loans with repayment terms up to 30 years. Read the full article.

EPA’s National Water Reuse Action Plan (WRAP) seeks to advance water reuse planning and implementation across the country. The EPA’s latest WRAP quarterly newsletter highlights strategies for engaging the medical community as partners in messaging about safe water reuse, state reuse guidelines, and regulations in the REUSExplorer tool, stormwater harvesting and reuse, and more!

Federal Appropriations for FY2024 being contemplated in Congress suggest mixed support for water programs. As reported by the WateReuse Association, the House Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee includes first-time funding of $3 million for the Pilot Program for Alternative Water Source Grants, targeted to advancing water reuse. However, the bill proposes deep cuts to EPA funding, including reducing funding for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Loan Programs by 67 percent and 59 percent, respectively. This would severely impact one of the most prominent and successful programs for low-cost financing of water and wastewater infrastructure in Oklahoma at a time when water infrastructure needs are greater than ever.

Funding Opportunities

The US Bureau of Reclamation announced a WaterSMART funding opportunity to support Applied Science Grants. These grants support the development of hydrologic information and water management tools to increase water supply reliability. Applicants may request up to $400,000 for activities to be completed within two years. Applicants must also provide at least a 25 or 50 percent cost-share depending on the type of project (see funding announcement link below for details).

Eligible project types include but are not limited to: 1) Develop or enhance modeling capabilities and forecasting tools to enhance management of water supplies and reservoir operations; 2) Develop new data or improve access to data to inform water management decisions; and 3) Develop, improve, or adapt tools to improve nature-based solutions.

Learn more about the Applied Science Grants program.

For more information, contact Avra Morgan at 303-445-2906 or aomorgan@usbr.gov, or reach out to Collins Balcombe in Reclamation’s Oklahoma/Texas Area office at 512-899-4162 or cbalcombe@usbr.gov. Paper applications are due October 17, 2023, by 5:00 pm MDT and grants.gov electronic applications are due October 17, 2023, by 10:00 pm MDT.

Closing Thoughts

I am eager to hear from you at the regional meetings across Oklahoma in the coming weeks! The OCWP is all about understanding, characterizing, and addressing Oklahoma’s water needs, and your input is a critical cornerstone for its success. We’ve got a good start based on initial input, and we’re acting on that input through a series of focused work groups. Let’s build on that to make the OCWP a robust plan, with the information and resources you need to tackle the water management challenges that lie ahead. Together, we can chart a course for water that supports thriving communities, robust agriculture, economic and industrial success, and healthy waterways and ecosystems!

Owen Mills
Director of Water Planning
Oklahoma Water Resources Board
405.530.8904 Office | 405.421.4127 Cell