OK Water Plan January 2024 Newsletter

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Header, January 2024 Newsletter

In this Issue:
Round 2 Takeaways 
Water Reuse Action Plan
Funding Resources
Upcoming Activities
Closing Thoughts

Action Items

Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan 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!


Oklahoma Public Water Providers! please complete the Local Projects and Programs Survey (or email Owen Mills your capital improvement plan) to help us better define the capital costs needed to address water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure challenges.


ODEQ Public Water Supply launches their own Newsletter!  Learn more or directly Subscribe here


National Water Reuse Action Plan. Oct-Dec 2023 Quarterly Update just released. Some recent actions:
Compendium of Best Practices for community engagement.

Potential Fed. Tax Credit for Private investment.

Global Water Reuse Dialogue


Winter scene in Oklahoma - OCWP Highlights for January 2024

Lake Hefner, OK

"The best way to predict the future is to create it!"  - attributed to Abraham Lincoln

The OCWP Team is so excited as we enter the New Year of 2024, celebrating the growing participation in the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan project and exciting positive new ideas we are hearing from so many of you! Many thanks to those of you that have contributed! Over the coming year or so, the OCWP team will follow up on the discussion items from our regional meetings, explore other priority topics, present data and findings from technical studies, and discuss recommendations to include in the OCWP. We look forward to continuing to work together to address problems and develop solutions!

Takeaways - Round 2 Regional Meetings

In December 2023, OWRB hosted the second in a series of statewide meetings designed to engage with local officials, water utility suppliers, regulated industry, commercial agricultural producers, economic development entities, and other organizations to converse on local water challenges, share opportunities, and identify ways the OCWP can support local water planning and management.

During the first round of regional meetings, three categories emerged to frame the breakout groups for this second round. While the conversations and suggestions varied across the regions, the summary below captures some takeaways and discussion where we found general agreement (For additional details download Round 2 Summary).

Permitting / Regulations / Policy - Many participants expressed support for increasing timely enforcement of existing rules and use limits. Ideas for achieving this included establishing regional OWRB offices or representatives, local management authorities, or modifying enforcement rules.

Nearly all participants expressed views that some form of local control or management of water resources would be beneficial, although there was no consensus on what the management structures should be implemented or what kinds of authorities, if any, should be established.

Infrastructure Improvements and Funding / Financing – It was uniformly agreed in the groups that clean safe abundant water is a public health issue; and that the daunting challenges of aging infrastructure and treating drinking water for new complex constituents, especially in small communities are often not met through current funding and assistance programs. There was broad support in the groups for some level of state match (cost-share) to address at least the most dire needs, in order to ensure public safety and public health. Most agreed that such cost-share should come with certain requirements that ensured recipients improved their long-term planning, improved their business management practices and operations. 

With those requirements, discussions usually segued into funding for and development of a more robust education program on effective utility management and board training, expanded planning and technical assistance programs, and provide substantial and ongoing state funding for water and wastewater activities. Most agreed that these could be accomplished within existing program authorities if these programs were provided ongoing additional funding and/or staff.

Collaboration and Partnership - Many participants expressed support for developing regional water plans, and support for the role coordination can play to leverage and improve individual plans within a region. Participants noted that regional water plans can be useful tools in identifying local capital project needs for water supply, and that the state could help incentivize such regional planning through existing financial programs by giving preference to or even cost-share to those projects that are participants of a larger regional water plan.

Group members identified several best management practices (BMPs) and mechanisms through which the state can encourage or incentivize voluntary BMPs. Examples include providing training and / or technical assistance for utilities to implement effective utility management and sustainable utilities practices (e.g. appropriate rate structures, regular rate increases, long-term planning, etc.).

 (For additional details download Round 2 Summary)

Oklahoma Water Reuse Action Plan

The Oklahoma Water Reuse Action Plan (OWRAP) was developed through a multi-agency collaborative effort and was recently published on OWRB’s Scientific Reports web page. The overarching goal of the OWRAP is to identify and chart a course that will reduce implementation challenges such that reuse can be a viable option for water managers. The OWRAP considers many forms of water reuse including:

  • Municipal nonpotable water reuse
  • Municipal potable water reuse
  • Agricultural water reuse
  • Industrial water reuse

The OWRAP Work Group approached Oklahoma's current reuse challenges by identifying five distinct, yet related aspects of water reuse: Economic, Organizational, Regulatory, Social, and Technical & Training. Subcommittees identified the drivers, barriers, and goals for each aspect, and the strategies or actions necessary to advance reuse in each. A fact sheet for each of 10 prioritized Actions is provided in Appendix B of the report.

Funding Resources

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced the following funding opportunities. 

▪  WaterSMART - Projects should conserve and use water more efficiently (e.g., flow measurement, metering, delivery improvements, canal lining, etc.); increase production of renewable energy (e.g., hydropower, solar, wind energy, etc.); mitigate risks of water conflict; and/or accomplish other benefits that contribute to water supply reliability in the western United States. More details on eligible projects are outlined in Section C.4. of the funding opportunity. The first application period closes on February 22, 5:00 pm; the second application period closes on October 30, 5:00 pm. This notice of funding opportunity announcement is available at grants.govby searching for funding opportunity number R24AS00052 or by clicking here.  Learn more about the Water and Energy Efficiency Grants at https://www.usbr.gov/watersmart/weeg/index.html.

▪  Title XVI WIIN Act Water Reclamation and Reuse Projects - Eligible activities include planning, design, and construction of water reclamation and reuse facilities. The funding opportunity announcement R23AS00464 is available by clicking here. A second application period due date is September 30, 2024 at 5:00 p.m.

▪  Desalination Construction Projects Under the WINN Act - Eligible activities include planning, design, and construction of facilities to desalinate seawater or brackish surface water or groundwater. The funding opportunity announcement R23AS00465 is available by clicking here. A second application period due date is September 30, 2024 at 5:00 p.m.

Upcoming Activities

The Master Irrigator Program will be held in January and February for Woodward and neighboring counties. Find out more information or register on the OSU Extension Master Irrigator website.

Clean Water SRF Training 3: Advocacy Opportunities and Planning on Jan 31, 12p PT/3p ET. The final training in the series will orient participants around actions you can take to ensure that CWSRF funds in your state are flowing towards projects in communities that need support, considerations on how to improve program transparency and community engagement, and tangible ways you can begin (or continue!) your water infrastructure advocacy.

Oklahoma Water Resources Center resumes their “Water You Talking About?” monthly water seminar series on February 15. Find out more and register here.

Find out more about the Oklahoma Well Owner Network free private well water testing here.

The 2024 Ogallala Aquifer Summit, Seward County Fairgrounds, Liberal KS will be held on March 18-19. This highly interactive event convenes water management leaders and others from across the Ogallala region to learn about and from each other’s work to slow aquifer decline and support ecosystem and community resilience.

Closing Thoughts

The Road Ahead: The Round 2 regional meetings were well attended! Our OCWP team met so many dedicated people with unique perspectives and fascinating insights. We appreciate the thoughtful discussion and respectful discourse that went on throughout the state.

Next, we will take what we heard and prepare for Round 3 meetings this spring (TBA) where, for some topics, we may need to ask for additional feedback on next level actions or legislative recommendations; or from our takeaways we might suggest a couple of new topics that haven't been explored in detail yet.  We look forward to exploring more, presenting what we learn, and visiting with you all again this spring. Come join us for Round 3! Lend your voice to the conversation, meet, learn, and network with other local water professionals, some likeminded and those different from yourself!

Stay curious,

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