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WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama on Tuesday appointed Delia Haak of Gentry to be chairman of the Arkansas-Oklahoma Arkansas River Compact Commission.

The commission administers a compact that the Arkansas and Oklahoma legislatures and Congress agreed to in 1970. The commission determines how much water from the Arkansas River and its tributaries each state can use, monitors pollution levels and coordinates between the water-quality agencies in both states. The commission submits an annual report on its actions to the president and the governors of Arkansas and Oklahoma.

The president appoints the seven-member body's chairman; it's a nonvoting position. The rest of the commission consists of the heads of each state's water-quality agency and four people -- two from each state -- who live in the river's watershed and are selected by the governors of Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Haak's appointment does not have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

"A lot of the compact will deal with quantity-of-water issues between the two states. I'm excited to work with the commissioners from Oklahoma and from Arkansas," Haak said.

Haak, 58, said she's been told that former Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality Director Teresa Marks nominated her for the position.

"It's been a number of months for the federal appointment to go through a vetting process and interviews and different things with the Interior Department and the White House personnel office and so on," she said.

Haak has been executive director of the Illinois River Watershed Partnership in Cave Springs since 2007. The partnership works on water issues with landowners in Northwest Arkansas and northeast Oklahoma.

The Illinois River Watershed is part of the Arkansas-Oklahoma Arkansas River Compact.

She spent the previous 20 years working in various capacities at John Brown University, including as director of graduate business programs from 1999 to 2005, director of the Soderquist Center for Leadership and Ethics from 1997 to 2000, associate professor of business from 1991 to 2006, and Sam M. Walton Free Enterprise Fellow from 1991 to 1998.

Haak participated in the Arkansas governor's business plan competition from 2003 to 2006 and again in 2011. She has a bachelor's degree from John Brown University and master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Arkansas.

Haak has contributed to Republican candidates, including U.S. Sen. John Boozman in 2010 and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012 when he challenged Obama, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Also on Tuesday, Obama appointed Joel West Williams as Haak's alternate on the commission. He is staff attorney for the Native American Rights Fund, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and the president-elect of the Native American Bar Association of D.C.

Metro on 03/11/2015

Print Headline: Haak to lead Arkansas River panel

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