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ADA – On Nov. 8-9, top state and tribal water leaders, researchers and other experts will take the stage at the Seventh Annual Oka’ (Water) Sustainability Conference on the East Central University campus in Ada, Oklahoma. The event, featuring a curated lineup of speakers as well as water resource-oriented field trips for attendees, is hosted by the Oka’ Institute.

Featured speakers at the two-day conference, which annually attracts hundreds of citizens and water professionals interested in sustainable water use and protection in both the state and its Tribal Nations, include Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby; Dr. Chris Frey, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assistant administrator of Research and Development; new Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment Ken McQueen; and ECU President Wendell Godwin.

According to Duane Smith, executive director of the Oka’ Institute, sustainable management of Oklahoma’s water resources is evolving from a trendy expression to real-world practice.

“State and federal agencies are now discovering what our indigenous peoples have known for millennia. That is, with a little creative thinking and innovation, we can leverage our water resources for economic development while sustainably managing those very waters for our many needs — both consumptive and non-consumptive — well into the future,” Smith said. “The experienced and diverse group of speakers we’ve assembled for the Conference are well-positioned to stimulate that conversation and advance new ways of thinking about the future of our water.”

The conference will explore the latest developments in water management, policy and law as well as Tribal water perspectives and ongoing research initiatives dealing with water sustainability.

The first day’s events will conclude with a reception followed by dinner at the CBCC Banquet Hall. Day two of the conference will also feature separate optional field trips to the Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer enhanced recharge site and nearby Byrds Mill Spring, Ada’s water source.

For more information on the Conference or to register, visit or contact Conference Coordinator Brandy Kaeshoefer, at or 580-272-8686.

Kaeshoefer can also assist members of the media who are interested in scheduling an interview with Duane Smith to learn more about pressing water issues facing Oklahoma, Tribal Nations and the region.


About the Oka’ Institute:

The Oka’ Water Institute is a department of East Central University and was established in partnership with the City of Ada and Chickasaw Nation to achieve the institute’s mission “to create practical water solutions both locally and globally driven by research and directed by data that result in long-term sustainable ecological management and economic development.”

At the Oka’ Institute, we recognize water as a critical resource for life as well as a powerful economic driver. We join with strategic partners for the purpose of safeguarding Oklahoma’s water for present and future generations.

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