As part of the update and expansion of the state-wide Water Plan, The Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) and the Water Research Institute at Oklahoma State University (WRI) recently announced a series of hearings to give citizens the opportunity to provide input on the water needs for the future of Oklahoma.

“The WRI is excited about the process we are about to embark on and we look forward to hearing from Oklahoma citizens,” said Mike Langston, WRI Assistant Director. “The stakeholder input portion of the Water Plan update is a unique endeavor designed to allow citizens a voice in planning for the future of Oklahoma's water resources.”

The Water Research Institute at Oklahoma State University will be conducting 42 local input meetings throughout the state. The purpose of the meetings is to record issues, concerns, questions and suggestions citizens have regarding Oklahoma's water resources. The first meeting will be held April 12 in Beaver, Oklahoma, at the Beaver County Fairgrounds Pavilion at 1107 Douglas. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. and is open to all area citizens. Participation by all parties interested in the future of Oklahoma's water is encouraged.

“We all use Oklahoma water whether in our homes or to make a living,” said Jeri Fleming, WRI Stakeholder Communications Specialist. “I think most of us take water for granted, that it will always be at our fingertips, but that may not be the case if we don't start thinking about the future now.”

The Oklahoma Water Resources Board is required by law to develop a Comprehensive Water Plan and update it every ten years; this is the third revision of the plan. The WRI is working with the OWRB to facilitate stakeholder input into the Water Plan.

Information sheets about water law as well as some regional and statewide issues will be available prior to the April 12 meeting. A record of discussion and all reports will be posted on the WRI website. Citizens will have the opportunity to make comments at the meeting or may fill out an input form and turn it at the meeting. The input form will also be available on the website or can be faxed or mailed.

“We want the process to be fair, inclusive and transparent. There is no set agenda for the water plan now, the agenda will be set by the people of Oklahoma,” Fleming said.

For more information and a schedule of meeting locations visit the WRI website at http://okwaterplan.info or e-mail the WRI at waterplan@okstate.edu.