Oklahoma Water Resources Center

Funding awarded to OSU faculty for water research


The Oklahoma Water Resources Center helps resolve water issues in Oklahoma by sponsoring research and disseminating the knowledge gained. While headquartered at Oklahoma State University, the center serves the entire state.

The Water Research Advisory Board, consisting of 22 state regulators, policymakers and water professionals, develops a list of priorities to address the needs of Oklahoma. These priorities guide the board in its selection process of awarding funding to water researchers.

After hearing presentations from five researchers from OSU and University of Oklahoma, the Advisory Board selected three Oklahoma State University researchers to receive funding for 2015.

“Water quantity and quality have always been very important issues in our state,” said Garey Fox, interim director of OSU’s Oklahoma Water Resources Center. “The fact that all three of the selections made by the Advisory Board are researchers from OSU is a testament to the work being done at our university to address critical water issues of utmost importance to Oklahoma.”

The three projects awarded funding all address various water issues across the state. The first is a study into the water quality in Lake Altus-Lugert, the primary water supply for the Lugert-Altus Irrigation District in southwest Oklahoma.

In October 2014, the lake was 10 percent full and was recovering from a golden algae bloom, which killed all fish in the lake. The lake has not contained enough water to produce an irrigated cotton crop since 2010. Tyson Ochsner, Sarkey’s professor in the department of plant and soil sciences, and his team will investigate the relative impacts of drought, upstream land use change, climate change and groundwater development to better understand the watershed.

The second project to receive funding support will look at the two primary pollutants to surface waters – sediment and nutrients. Dan Storm, professor in the department of biosystems and agricultural engineering, will lead the project. Joined by Aaron Mittelstet, BAE research engineer, the team will inspect the excess sediment affecting the water chemistry, aquatic organisms and water clarity of streams and rivers.

The duo hopes to be able to provide agencies with accurate estimates of streambank erosion and phosphorus contributions for the Barren Fork Creek watershed, improve watershed-based plans, test and assess a model that will be applicable to other watersheds throughout the world and provide recommendations to watershed modelers and managers.

The third and final project awarded with funding is that of Jason Warren, associate professor in the department of plant and soil sciences, and his team.

The Ogallala aquifer is a vital resource for the economy of the Panhandle. Agricultural irrigation is the primary use (86 percent) of water in the region, used to produce a variety of crops, primarily corn.

The objectives of the study are to evaluate the yield and water use efficiency of corn, sorghum and wheat under a range of irrigation capacities and evaluate the profitability and production risks of these crops so producers can make sound decisions on the utilization of their water resources.

All three projects are underway and data is being collected for analysis. For more information about these and previously funded projects, visit Project Reports.


Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.

Sean Hubbard
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
145 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-4490
Fax: 405-744-5739
Email: sean.hubbard@okstate.edu

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