I cannot help but feel some irony when I post this item.
States usually detest and fight against every act of sovereign and governmental authority attempted by American Indian Tribes. But every once and a while a state will see a benefit (to itself) from supporting tribal sovereignty.
This has already occurred in many water rights settlements that tribes, states, and the federal government have enacted over the past 30 years. In many of these agreements, states agreed to tribal authority to lease their water as long as it was done “in-state,” to state cities or recipients.
In the news is the latest example of a state agency “supporting” tribal rights because it helps the state.
The press is reporting that a north Texas water district, the Tarrant Regional Water District, is negotiating to purchase Oklahoma water from the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma. The district has asked a federal judge to require Oklahoma to consider out-of-state water permits in the same manner that in-state water permits are considered.
Tarrant Regional Water District has filed three permits with the Oklahoma Water Resources Board for surface water from the tributaries of the Red River to serve more than 1.7 million customers in north central Texas. Oklahoma lawmakers have opposed the sale of water to Texas.
In a bill signed into law last session, Oklahoma lawmakers approved a process that would require out-of-state permits to be approved by the full Legislature, not just by the water resources board. Oklahoma’s water needs also would trump an out-of-state request for water, under the law.
Tarrant Regional Water District has also begun talks with tribes in southern Oklahoma that have water rights. In its court filing, the water district argues tribal nations have sovereign water rights and are free to negotiate the sale of water without state oversight or interference.