Although it is with great excitement, anticipation, and joy when I get to visit Blue River each time, these days I almost dread what I believe I will see.
It seems to me that Blue is slowly wasting away of late, her level ever lowering. We received massive amounts of rainfall this past spring and early summer but the rain came in the form of torrential downpours, flooding occurred and most of the water simply ran-off. The Arbuckle Simpson Aquifer, which is the lifeblood of Blue, did receive a recharge but now the river continues to lower.
The fact is this area has been in an extended drought, remains in that drought, and is prone to drought. And, even though we have been in a long drought and prone to more drought conditions there are still those that wish to drill, pump, and remove tremendous amounts of water from the aquifer.
Although legislation was passed forbidding any new permits removing water from the aquifer, the mining company Meridian Aggregates was able to circumvent the law and now have a well drilled with a large permit in hand. Not only do they have a permit to pump water they also "scalped" the top of the aquifer in their mining activity and are now having to de-water the pit. Quite simply they are de-watering an aquifer that holds some of the purest water in Oklahoma.
More mining companies have set their sights above the Arbuckle Simpson Aquifer. Vulcan Materials have been performing tests in the area and Hanson Aggregates has applied for even a large permit than Meridian applied for.
Water and the way we use it has become and will remain one of the largest issues we have to face as a society. Of course...humanity needs water for drinking and domestic use. However, we simply can't go around drying up our springs, streams, rivers, and waterways.
In the future we must make water conservation a daily thought and practice for in that future lies our future. We must insist that our community, state, and federal governments assist us in practicing water conservation.
In 1903 Theodore Roosevelt wrote and delivered the following. "We tend to think of our natural resources as inexhaustible. This is simply not true." Now, over one hundred years later I have to wonder if we have fully learned what Roosevelt was trying to tell us.
Today, Blue River is struggling in her stream flow. At the monitoring station at Blue, Oklahoma Blue is running at 32 cfs. If we compare this to the average over the last 71 years we see that the average is 110 cfs. The hydraulics and dynamics of this little river has changed.
Blue River can't speak for herself, but you can. I can't imagine a day in my life that this river might not be here. Can you?