Red River Rivalry over water lands in Supreme Court

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Updated: 4/24/2013 6:01 pm Published: 4/24/2013 4:58 pm

A Red River Showdown over water is being argued in front of the Supreme Court.

Texas wants billions of gallons of water from the Red River in Oklahoma. Texas wants to buy 150 billion gallons of water from Oklahoma tributaries feeding the Red river. The water would go to the exploding populations of north central Texas.

Erik Jaffe represents businesses there and was there for the Supreme Court arguments. He spoke to the FOX23 News Washington bureau, “They need water, they need it conveniently and they need it at a reasonable price. It's just a very simple equation.”

Oklahoma refuses to give Texas the water, citing state law that limits transferring water out of the drought prone state. But, 30 years ago Oklahoma signed something called the ‘Red River Compact,’ which is a water sharing agreement between Texas, Oklahoma and two other states.

Jaffe says the compact is vague, “it's the lack of clarity that really is making this a fight the Supreme Court is going to have to answer.”

Texas says the compact gives it a right to the water, Oklahoma disagrees. On Tuesday, arguing before the court, an attorney for Oklahoma said of Texas:

"...what they are asking for is unprecedented, Mr. Chief Justice. There has never been a cross-border diversion -- ever -- under any State water compact."

Lower courts have sided with Oklahoma. The Supreme Court discusses this case in private on Friday with a ruling likely this summer.

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