A fight over a farm pond in western Oklahoma’s Custer County went all the way to the State Supreme Court where a farm family finally won its water fight.
The Court ruled in support of Preston and Candy Masquelier who built a pond to collect water from the Crow Springs Creek, a tributary of the South Canadian River. They had been sued by downstream farmers Mark and Jolana Farris who contended the farm pond, constructed in 2014, interfered with their own use of the water.
So the Farris family filed an application for an appropriation permit with the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. They wanted the permit to appropriate a portion of the Creek to irrigate crops and trees. They were joined by two other downstream neighbors. The Masqueliers followed up with their own application to the OWRB, stating they wanted to use some of the Creek water for irrigation purposes as well as to sell to oil and gas companies for their drilling needs.
When the Farrises protested the application by the Masqueliers, the OWRB held a hearing and decided the Farrises should have access to a certain amount of water and that the Masqueliers had to release it from their pond. In 2016, a lawsuit was filed in Custer County District Court by the Farrises against the Masqueliers, accusing the Masqueliers of no longer releasing water.
The matter went to trial and after five days, a jury ruled in support of the Masqueliers. The jury denied a request for an injunction against the Masqueliers and awarded court costs to the Masqueliers.
The matter ended up before the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals which reversed the trial court’s denial of a new trial. The Supreme Court overturned the Court of Civil Appeals and ruled the trial court’s ruling was correct.
“The trial court properly instructed the jury in this case and the jury verdict should not be overturned on appeal,” ruled the Supreme Court.
“The jury evaluated the facts, evidence, and law in finding for the Masqueliers on all claims and their verdict should stand.”