The Supreme Court has unanimously rejected Texas' claim that it has a right under a 30-year-old agreement to cross the border with Oklahoma for water to serve the fast-growing Fort Worth area.
The justices on Thursday upheld a lower court ruling that said Oklahoma laws intended to block Texas' water claims are valid.
The case concerns a dispute over access to southeastern Oklahoma tributaries of the Red River that separates Oklahoma and Texas.
"This is a major victory for Oklahoma with all nine justices agreeing with our argument that Texas does not have the right to come into Oklahoma and take our water," Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said. "We successfully defended Oklahoma's right to protect its natural resources at the district court, circuit court of appeals, and now the Supreme Court, which confirmed Oklahoma's sovereignty over its water resources. This unanimous decision will affect all western states governed by multi-state water compacts, and will protect Oklahoma's ability to control this vital resource for generations to come."
The Tarrant Regional Water District serving an 11-county area in north-central Texas including Fort Worth and Arlington wants to buy 150 billion gallons of water and says the four-state Red River Compact gives it the right to do so. Arkansas and Louisiana are the other participating states and they are siding with Oklahoma.
Jim Oliver, the general manager of the Tarrant Regional Water District, issued this statement:
"Obviously, we are disappointed with the Supreme Court's decision. Securing additional water resources is essential to North Texas' continued growth and prosperity and will remain one of our top priorities. The population in our service area is expected to double over the next fifty years so we will act quickly to develop new sources. The decision does not address the problem of Oklahoma's lack of water infrastructure, and we believe solutions that benefit both Texas and Oklahoma still exist. We will continue to explore and advance those opportunities."