State Water Plan September Newsletter

OCWP Newsletter September 2023
Action Items

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

Utility Providers: The Water Supply and 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 affiliated with a public water provider (municipal or rural water) and your system has not already completed this survey, please fill it out by October 31! If you have questions or need help, don’t hesitate to contact us at 405.530.8904.

Submit a nomination for Water for 2060 Excellence Award! Select Agriculture, Municipal or Energy/Industry category then answer two questions. Get inspired by checking out previous Water for 2060 Excellence Award winners.

Rural Oklahomans: Please help researchers that are part of the Rural Renewal Initiative at Oklahoma State University understand how you get information about news and connect with others by completing their survey

Bookmark OWRB’s new Website! After almost 30 years, OWRB has updated and moved and is now integrated with with a completely new look, so check out our homepage here:
And be sure to bookmark the OCWP Planning page here:

Upcoming Events

September 13-15 Oklahoma Rural Water Association Fall Conference in Hulbert. OWRB Planning Director Owen Mills will be hosting a listening session for the OCWP Sept. 14 in the afternoon.

September 19-21 Oklahoma Municipal League Annual Conference in Oklahoma City.

September 18-20 Oklahoma Floodplain Managers Association Annual Conference in Tulsa.

September 21 The Oklahoma Water Resources Center presents a new monthly water seminar series called “Water You Talking About?” These seminars will be held in hybrid format, allowing for both in-person interactions as well as participation by those interested but not located in or near Stillwater to participate.

September 24-30, celebrate Source Water Protection Week. AWWA has activity suggestions for utilities, consumers, environmental groups, and businesses.

September 26 The Water Research Foundation free webcast on “Addressing Impediments and Incentives for Agricultural Reuse” – click here to register.

November 29-30 the 2023 Oklahoma Governor’s Water Conference & Research Symposium will be held in Norman. Current water issues and policies will be discussed by state, federal, and local experts. The Student Research Water Poster Competition, held concurrently, offers students from any institution of higher learning in Oklahoma the opportunity to share research or extension/outreach topics related to water resources in Oklahoma

Wichita Mountain Wildlife Preserve, Lawton, OK

At the end of August, the OCWP Planning team completed Round 1 in a series of regional input meetings (Presentation Slides). Local officials, water utility suppliers, regulated industry, commercial agricultural producers, economic development entities, legislators, and other interested citizens gathered with us to share their perspectives on water challenges facing Oklahoma. To those that participated, both in person and online, we acknowledge the sacrifice of time and effort you gave to this process and we are committed to repay those efforts by doing our utmost to provide quality data and sharing information in future Rounds!

We hope you will join us again for the next round of meetings, invite colleagues, get to know the OCWP team, roll up your sleeves and collaborate with us in a solution-oriented environment over this ubiquitous topic that touches us all in so many ways. Stay tuned for more information on Round 2 meetings happening in December!

Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan Round 1 Regional Meetings

In August, OWRB hosted in-person meetings in Altus, Ada, Claremore, Woodward, and Oklahoma City along with two virtual meetings, with local officials and water-minded citizens to provide an overview of the OCWP process and converse on local water challenges, opportunities, and information the OCWP can provide to support their needs and efforts. Click here to see presentation slides.

While water challenges clearly vary across the state, a few common themes emerged. Examples include:

▪  Take steps to increase the public’s understanding of the Value of Water, in terms of the true cost of delivering and treating water and the cost of hiring and retaining critical water professionals, and water as an economic driver in many communities.

▪  Increase funding -- with a preference toward grants or cost sharing, as well as using multiple funding sources and/or funding partners -- is needed to support a variety of activities including: regional planning, water management district formation and/or activities, infrastructure projects (especially in small communities), and that funding should encourage/require/support better water management practices.

▪  Improve the accuracy of water use reporting, faster follow up when complaints are submitted, improved groundwater protection, and coordination with other state and federal agencies related to water quality protection.

▪  Provide information on impacts of weather variability, impacts of anticipated and/or new water regulations (such as PFAS, lead and copper service lines, etc.), and best water management practices for things like water rate structures, conservation programs, etc. that may impact Oklahomans.

▪  Enhance knowledge-sharing activities across the water industry is critical for all water-related professions to capitalize on lessons learned by their colleagues and serve as an inspiration to improve water management practices

Round 2 meetings this December (TBA) will take a deeper look at several of these issues. Using local knowledge and expertise at each meeting, we will begin conversations on how best to address some of the most urgent challenges. What we tackle will depend somewhat on who attends, who wants to invest their time and expertise, as well as finding participants with a desire to collaborate with neighbors and actively seek solutions.

These meetings might include topical breakouts or even evolve into larger work groups, so invite your colleagues to join us and let’s address Oklahoma’s water challenges!

Funding Resources

OK Rural Infrastructure Grant (RIG) - ORWA - program helps rural and small municipal water and wastewater systems become sustainable and improve infrastructure, with up to $100,000 in funding per project. The RIG program will fund 80 % of the project cost. The other 20% must be matched by the system, either through dollars or in-kind contributions. RIG is available to publicly-owned Oklahoma water and wastewater systems serving 3,300 or fewer people.

Financing to address CECs!  Up to 100% loan principal forgiveness! for projects addressing CECs - must be identified and confirmed (FAQ).  Contact OWRB for more information 405.530.8800

Workforce!Apprenticeship Program - With little to no cost, apprentices will attend a 2-year training program through ORWA. From classroom instruction and on-the-job training, apprentices are provided the tools necessary to be a successful operation specialist in your state and community.

2023 Community Wildfire Defense Grants. Oklahoma Forestry Services are now accepting applications! Details and applications are available at (search keyword CWDG). Deadline for applications is 10:59 p.m. CST on October 31, 2023. Please contact Oklahoma Forestry Services Community Wildfire Defense Grant Coordinator Eric L. Ashlock at or 405.823.7393.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced openings for the following funding opportunities: Drought Resiliency Projects, Planning & Project Design Grants, Cooperative Water Management Programs Phase I, and Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Projects . Click the links to learn more about qualifications and application deadlines.
All USBR funding opportunities are available at by searching for the funding opportunity numbers with additional details at or you can reach out to Collins Balcombe in Reclamation’s Oklahoma/Texas Area office at 512-899-4162 or

Closing Thoughts

For us, local engagement on the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan is not about checking off a box…
We’re in this to address problems, some of them long-standing problems that shouldn’t wait for the 2035 Water Plan before corrective steps are taken. Personally, as I talk with people across the state and across the country, I’ve come to believe that most of our water woes will only be solved by building relationships. It will take new relationships and new partnerships that crosscut water sectors and leap beyond (what are too often) self-constructed barriers and should ask ourselves, “Why not?”

If you didn’t make it to the Round 1 meetings, join us for Round 2! And if you did make it, keep coming! Nothing as complex as water gets solved over one meeting, by simply sharing a concern and leaving for home.

To be successful, this series of meetings, by design, needs your continued input and experience with each successive meeting to build workable local and statewide solutions. We’ll do the heavy lifting, but we need your experience & talent from within the trenches, to attend these meetings, bring your colleagues, get to know this accomplished team of professionals, and dig in so that we can effectively seek solutions for your communities together!

Best regards to each and every one of you,

Owen Mills | director of water planning
Oklahoma Water Resources Board
405.530.8904 Office | 405.421.4127 Cell