Republican River Basin: 2015 operations plan okayed, compliance pipeline will be online again

South Fork of the Republican River
South Fork of the Republican River

From The Yuma Pioneer (Tony Rayl):

Kansas has reached agreements with Colorado and Nebraska to allow for 100-percent credit for augmentation efforts to bring the latter two into compliance with the Republican River Compact.

The three states met as the Republican River Compact Administration in Denver on October 22, when the agreements were signed.

The agreement between Colorado and Kansas ensures that Colorado can operate its compact compliance pipeline again in 2015, and receive 100-percent credit for the water pumped into the North Fork of the Republican River near the Colorado-Nebraska border in extreme eastern Yuma County. The pipeline is operated by the Republican River Water Conservation District, and is being paid for by assessment fees on all groundwater users in Colorado’s Republican River Basin, with irrigation farmers carrying the bulk of the cost.

“The Republican River Water Conservation District appreciates the efforts of State Engineer Dick Wolfe and his staff in reaching this agreement with Kansas and Nebraska,” RRWCD General Manager Deb Daniel said. “We encourage the states to continue negotiations and permanently grant us 100 percent credit for the water delivered by the pipeline so that Colorado will continue to comply with the compact.”

The agreement signed last month is another one-year resolution, mirroring the one Colorado and Kansas are operating under this year. Colorado delivered 4,000 acre-feet to the North Fork from January to March 2014, and will finish delivering the water necessary to be in compliance for 2014, beginning Monday, November 10, and finishing by December 31.

Daniel said the plan is to pump an additional 2,500 to 3,000 acre-feet, although final calculations have not been compiled yet.

“We will deliver most of the water in November and early December,” Daniel said, “and slow the pipeline down as we get near the end of the year so that we only deliver as much water as is necessary to be in compliance with the pipeline.”

Under the next one-year agreement, Colorado will continue operating the pipeline in the first months of 2015, delivering 4,000 acre-feet by March 31 to begin meeting compliance for next year.

Calculations will be made throughout the growing season, and Colorado will deliver in November and December whatever amount is necessary to be in compliance for 2015.

Colorado has agreed to pump a minimum of 4,000 acre-feet each year to help alleviate some of the concerns Kansas has voiced during prolonged negotiations over the augmentation plan’s permanent approval.

The approximately 7,000 acre-feet to be pumped by the end of 2014 is just a little more than half of the approximately 13,000 acre-feet allowed, based on the historical consumptive use of the wells in operation. (Daniel said there are seven more wells that will be connected to the pipeline in the future, when it becomes necessary to deliver more water. The annual maximum capacity at that time will increase to 25,000 acre-feet, though the state still will deliver only what is necessary to meet compliance, besides the annual minimum 4,000 acre-feet.)

By comparison, Nebraska has pumped 63,500 acre-feet of water from two augmentation projects. Nebraska’s engineers have calculated the state needed somewhere around 40,000 acre feet this year to stay in compliance. It pumped more than needed because the projects at first were not receiving 100-percent credit. In fact, Nebraska would have received credit for only 37,000 acre-feet if the agreement had not been reached with Kansas.

More Republican River Basin coverage here.

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