NRDs Laud Special Master's Draft Report And State's Legal Team

Preliminary decision is considered good for Nebraska's Republican River Stance.

Published on: Jan 24, 2013

Natural resources districts in the Republican River are encouraged by the draft recommendations issued by Special Master William J. Kayatta on the Republican River Compact case.

Additionally, they also thanked Gov. Dave Heineman, Attorney General Jon Bruning, the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources and the legal team that defended Nebraska in the lawsuit brought by Kansas. "They deserve praise for their diligent efforts to defend Nebraska's economy and the right to use water in the basin, says Joe Anderjaska, president of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts, the umbrella organization that represents the state's 23 NRDs. Anderjaska also is a board member of the Middle Republican NRD.

NRDs Laud Special Masters Draft Report And States Legal Team
NRDs Laud Special Master's Draft Report And State's Legal Team

"The groundwater irrigators in the basin also deserve praise for their compliance with regulatory actions and willingness to work with the NRDs and the State of Nebraska to develop workable, common sense, Nebraska-based water management plans that will keep Nebraska in compliance while helping preserve natural resources for generations to come," Anderjaska adds. "The local NRDs will continue to support the local economy of Nebraska while also providing adequate regulations to protect the water resources." said Joe Anderjaska, President of the

The draft report, he says, provides positive feedback that the commitment of the local water users to assist the local NRDs and the State of Nebraska in developing water use plans is working and will work into the future.

The case went before Special Master William J. Kayatta, a Maine judge, in August 2012. The State of Kansas had sued Nebraska asking for up to 300,000 acres permanently retired from irrigation and up to $80 million in damages for water use in 2006.

Kayatta recommended a financial award to Kansas of $5 million, which is considerably less than the requested $80 million. Kansas' request for future restrictions on water use also was denied.

Since 2006, several laws have changed to give local NRDs the ability to develop water conservation and river augmentation projects. The Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement project in Lincoln County provides an opportunity to provide additional water in compact call and water-short years and avoid additional regulation, according to Anderjaska. Nearly 16,000 acres were retired from irrigation by the Lower Republican, Middle Republican, Upper Republican and Twin Platte NRDs with the purchase of the irrigated farm in Lincoln County. "An amount of water equal to or less than what crops would have consumed on the property--had it not been retired from irrigation--would be pumped to a Republican River tributary to keep Nebraska in compliance with the compact," he notes.

In the project water also will be piped into the Platte River to help return a portion of that basin to 1997 levels.