Republican River Basin compliance pipeline update

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From the Yuma Pioneer (Tonay Rayl):

The proposed pipeline, and several issues surrounding it, were addressed during the Republican River Water Conservation District Board of Directors’ regular quarterly meeting, last Thursday in Wray.

Attorney Dennis Montgomery gave an update on the arbitration process. He noted the selection of an arbitrator already is several weeks behind schedule but still expected the process to be completed by spring 2010.

The initial time frame was for Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas to have an arbitrator selected by September 16. However, it has not been done yet. Montgomery said five potential arbitrators are being interviewed by a mediator.

He noted Nebraska also is requesting arbitration on an issue it has with credits, arguing that paying for a shortage to Kansas should be wiped clean from the rolling average. He said this issue could be combined with the pipeline to go before the arbitrator.

Montgomery was asked what could happen if arbitration fails. The pipeline approval could be taken back before the Republican River Compact Administration again. If denied again, he was asked what Colorado would do. It could file a lawsuit or push it forward before the U.S. Supreme Court…

Nate Midcap spoke to the board about concerns in regards to what credit Colorado will receive for the water delivered by the proposed pipeline.

Midcap is the manager for four local ground water management districts, including the Sand Hills District, where the pipeline would be located. It is the Sand Hills board of directors that will have to have a hearing on whether to allow the exporting of water for the pipeline.

He said the state engineer said in a recent meeting that the pipeline water might receive only 80 percent credit for beneficial use. He noted the Sand Hills is a small board, and he did not want it burdened with the decision without a clear statement of beneficial use from the RRWCD. He said he wanted the RRWCD to push for 100-percent credit, and that the state engineer said he would push for 100-percent credit.

Midcap noted the more beneficial use credited to Colorado, the easier the board’s decision will be.

Montgomery said the district also would like to have a beneficial use statement, but probably will not have it until the end of arbitration.

“Our goal was to receive 100 percent credit minus the depletion factor, (which makes for a net of around 97 percent),” Board President Dennis Coryell said, adding the district’s goal still is 100 percent. “How it’s computed in the model is going to be the struggle for the states.”

More Republican River Basin coverage here and here.

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