Republican compact agreement gives full credit for Nebraska’s river augmentation projects — The Kearney Hub

Republican River Basin by District
Republican River Basin by District

From The Kearney Hub:

An agreement approved Wednesday by the Republican River Compact Administration gives Nebraska 100 percent credit for groundwater that natural resources districts are using to augment river flows for compact compliance. It also ensures that water stored in Harlan County Reservoir for compliance won’t go to waste, according to a press release from Upper Republican NRD officials in Imperial.

They said it is hoped the agreement will lead to a similar deal for 2015 and to a new, positive working relationship between Kansas and Nebraska that benefits water users in both states.

“The resolution approved by the RRCA allows water now being held in Harlan County Reservoir to be released to Kansas during the 2015 irrigation season when it can be beneficially used, without compromising Nebraska’s ability to maintain compact compliance,” Nebraska Department of Natural Resources Deputy Director Jim Schneider said. He chaired the meeting in Denver. “The ability of the states to work together in resolving these issues is a significant step forward.”

There are two augmentation projects: Rock Creek Augmentation Project in Dundy County operated by the URNRD and Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement project in Lincoln County operated by the Upper, Middle and Lower Republican NRDs, along with the Twin Platte NRD.

Combined, the projects will add about 63,500 acre-feet of water to the Republican River system for 2014. Without the agreement, Nebraska’s credit would have been 37,000 a-f.

Nebraska officials have said that without the augmentation projects to ensure adequate flows into Kansas for compact compliance an alternative could be shutting down irrigation on more than 300,000 crop acres in Nebraska.

URNRD General Manager Jasper Fanning said Wednesday’s agreement “should provide Nebraskans assurance that water being added to streams in 2014 effectively prevented a shutdown of more than 300,000 irrigated acres in the basin this year and that we aren’t being required to do more than what we should under the agreement.”

He said it benefits water users in both Kansas and Nebraska…

The agreement approved by representatives of the compact states, Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas, means Kansas water users could get 20,000-25,000 a-f next year and the balance could be used by Nebraska Bostwick Irrigation District irrigators downstream from Harlan County Dam.

The agreement follows last week’s oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on a special master’s recommendation on penalties for Nebraska’s overuse of compact water in 2005 and 2006…

A final decision by the court is expected by the end of June.

More Republican River Basin coverage here.