I want to thank the voters of Ada for trusting me to serve on the Ada City Council for the last six years. It has been my honor. I considered another term, however, I found someone willing and very, very able to represent Ward 1 and the entire community. Also, I feel very optimistic about the direction of the city.
There has been a lot of progress in the last few years that will become more visible to Ada residents in the near future.
New police and fire stations, recreation facilities, Main Street upgrade, overall street improvement, and a new water tower will join a new county jail and remodeled courthouse, Ada Arts District, East Central University improvements and the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center.
Less obvious to the average citizen are many of the infrastructure improvements, needs, and plans. The city of Ada has been upgrading the sewage collection system for several years, and major improvements to that treatment plant, as well as water treatment and delivery systems, are underway and/or planned.
None of the accomplishments or plans above would be possible or of consequence without a sufficient, safe, reliable, and affordable source of water. Fortunately, Ada has a water supply that is the envy of water providers everywhere. Unfortunately, a sign of the times is that if you have a good water supply, someone else is going to want it. That was the case in 2003 when a group of cities in the Oklahoma City area proposed to build a 90-mile pipeline to the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer and pump over 70 million gallons of water per day to those cities. Citizens and communities across south-central Oklahoma, such as Ada, Ardmore, Durant, Davis, Sulphur, and Tishomingo, that depend on this aquifer for drinking water and economic development for almost 150,000 residents, joined together with the Chickasaw Nation to convince the state Legislature to pass Senate Bill 288. SB 288 prohibited export of Arbuckle-Simpson water out of this seven-county region until a hydrology study could determine how much water could be safely pumped from the aquifer without destroying the water supplies of current users.
The Oklahoma Water Resources Board conducted a five-year, $5 million study, the most extensive ground water hydrology study in the history of Oklahoma. That study is complete, the science is clear, and the OWRB has proposed a management plan for the Arbuckle-Simpson that is sustainable and fair to all users. Contrary to some rumors, this plan does not seek to reduce the total amount of ground water that is currently being pumped.
In fact, it provides for an almost eight-fold increase over present use. Unfortunately, the commercial water interests and their allies, lawyers, and lobbyists want more and have continued to challenge SB 288 legally and legislatively.
They challenged the constitutionality all the way to the state Supreme Court and lost. In every session of the state Legislature since 2003, they have introduced legislation that would overturn and/or dismantle the protections that SB 288 provides for the quantity and quality of the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer water. More recently, they have protested Ada’s right to drill a backup water supply well where Ada has water rights and where hydrologists agree is the most desirable location. If the drought conditions of 2011 and 2012 continue, and one or more of our three existing wells has mechanical problems, this backup well would prevent serious water rationing problems this summer and future summers.
Dick Scalf is former mayor and current Ada City Councilman.