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OKC Files Response to Federal Lawsuit (Jan 26, 2012)
Oklahoma City has filed its official response to a federal lawsuit over water rights in the state.

A statement from the city says the filing, called an “answer,” disputes “the unprecedented claims to water in Southeast Oklahoma made by two Indian tribes.” The Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations sued Oklahoma City and its water utilities trust over control of water in the Kiamichi, Clear Boggy and Muddy Boggy basins… along with the Atoka Pipeline.

City Manager Jim Couch said, Oklahoma City’s “answer will help protect the water sources on which many Oklahoma communities for decades have depended for tap water.” The two tribes filed suit against the City of Oklahoma City and State of Oklahoma in August of last year.

The Native American governments say treaties with the federal government that pre-date Oklahoma statehood give them rights to the water in their historic areas in the southeast part of the state. Couch said while the Tribes do have some rights, the treaties and agreements clearly do not convey the broad rights they’re claiming.

A federal judge ordered parties in the lawsuit to seek mediation so the dispute could be brought to a speedy resolution. Similar lawsuits in other parts of the nation have taken decades to resolve.

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