#Nebraska #water groups endorse proposed $500M #Colorado canal — The Associated Press #SouthPlatteRiver

Nebraska Rivers Shown on the Map: Beaver Creek, Big Blue River, Calamus River, Dismal River, Elkhorn River, Frenchman Creek, Little Blue River, Lodgepole Creek, Logan Creek, Loup River, Medicine Creek, Middle Loup River, Missouri River, Niobrara River, North Fork Big Nemaha River, North Loup River, North Platte River, Platte River, Republican River, Shell Creek, South Loup River, South Platte River, White River and Wood River. Nebraska Lakes Shown on the Map: Harlan County Lake, Hugh Butler Lake, Lake McConaughy, Lewis and Clark Lake and Merritt Reservoir. Map credit: Geology.com

Click the link to read the article from The Associated Press (Grant Schulte):

Leaders from Nebraska’s irrigation and natural resources districts cast the plan as a crucial step to preserve as much of the state’s water supply as possible. Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts identified it as a top priority, arguing that not moving forward would eventually cost Nebraska billions as farms, cities and other water users struggle with shortages…

Tom Riley, director of the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, said cutbacks on the river would force water regulators to release more water from Lake McConaughy, a major reservoir of the North Platte River, which converges with the South Platte River to form the Platte River.

Riley said the reduced flows would also affect power generation in the state, force farmers to retire productive farmland and hurt municipal water supplies within the river basin. Nebraska also relies on the river at some of its public power stations, including a coal-powered facility that uses water for cooling…

Elizabeth Elliott, director of Lincoln’s Transportation and Utilities agency, said Lincoln relies on the Platte River to supplement the water it draws from wells. She said water from the South Platte River provides about 7% of the city’s water…

The South Platte River Basin is shaded in yellow. Source: Tom Cech, One World One Water Center, Metropolitan State University of Denver.

John Winkler, general manager of the Omaha-based Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District, said reducing the river flows would cut into the water supply in his area, which is a part the Platte River basin. Winkler said construction costs will rise quickly with inflation the longer the state waits to approve the project…

Speaker of the Legislature Mike Hilgers, who introduced the bill on the governor’s behalf, said forging ahead with the canal could help Nebraska “put the strongest foot forward” in any negotiations. But he said the canal proposal wasn’t intended as a bargaining chip and argued the state ought to move forward with the project.

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