Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts announced a plan Monday to build canals along the South Platte River in Colorado as part of a 1923 compact between states to allow water to flow into Nebraska.
The deal, known as the South Platte River Compact, is a water-sharing agreement between the two states that allows Nebraska to pump 120 cubic feet per second and 500 cubic feet per second from the river during the irrigation season between April 1 and October 15. allows. Second in irrigation season.
Under the Nebraska Compact, Colorado can build, maintain and run canals on land to divert water from the South Platte River for use by Nebraskas. The century-old settlement also gives Nebraska the ability to purchase land from Colorado landlords or gain access by enforcing eminent domains.
Ricketts said the decision to implement the compact came amid concerns that Colorado’s plan for the river could reduce water flow into Nebraska by as much as 90 percent. It will put pressure on the state’s agriculture and power industries, which will most likely affect water supplies for the state’s two largest cities, Omaha and Lincoln.
“We’re very concerned about what’s going to happen with these projects,” Ricketts, a Republican, said during a news conference. The reduced water flow “is going to have a dramatic impact on our ability to feed the world.”
Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, a Republican, said Colorado is issuing water use permits that would cut off Nebraska’s right.
“It is important that we be able to maintain these flows,” Peterson said.
Colorado released a report this month that identified 282 new projects within the South Platte River basin along the border at a total cost of $9.87 billion.
According to the report, the Colorado population living within the river basin is expected to grow by 42 percent to 70 percent between 2015 and 2050, creating a greater demand for water. The report also warned that climate change could reduce stream flow and shift snowmelt patterns earlier in the year, creating more agricultural demand for water.
Democratic Colorado Gov. spokesman Jared Polis said the governor was reviewing the matter.
Press Secretary Conor Cahill said: “The governor became aware of this situation this morning and we are working to understand it more thoroughly, including legal and operational analysis, at this time.” “Government police continue to oppose the diversion of precious water resources from Colorado.”
Kevin Rein, Colorado’s state engineer and director of the state’s Department of Water Resources, said officials will work with Nebraska to fully understand the proposal and ensure that Colorado’s interests are respected while respecting Nebraska’s rights under the agreement. be protected.
“Colorado has a long history of maintaining compliance with the South Platte River Compact, and Nebraska and Colorado have always worked collaboratively on the administration of the compact,” Rein said in a statement.
The South Platte River flows northeast through the rapidly expanding Front Range of Colorado and into Nebraska, where it merges with the North Platte River to form the Platte River before crossing the rest of the state.
Ricketts declined to disclose where Nebraska would get the money to pay for the project, saying he would release more details in his annual State of the Union address to lawmakers on Thursday. He noted that Nebraska had begun work on a canal before World War I, but abandoned the project, a portion of which is still visible from Interstate 76 near Julesburg, Colorado.
Peterson said the canal would fill a reservoir that would store water for Nebraska’s use. He said officials in Nebraska became concerned about Colorado’s ability to deliver water as it deals with its own shortage.
Nebraska and Colorado have been at odds at times in recent years, particularly with Colorado’s initial legalization of recreational marijuana. The move was criticized by governors and law enforcement officials in Nebraska, a conservative state. Denied permission to medicine in any form,
Last year, Rickets raised voice Against Polis’ decision to sign a non-binding proclamation that encouraged people to avoid meat for one day a week, calling it a “direct attack on our way of life” and on its own pro-meat declaration signed.
Meanwhile, Nebraska also announced plans to spend an estimated $200 million on water projects across the state. Plans include the construction of a marina at Lake McConaughey State Recreation Area in western Nebraska, a visitor lodge and other upgrades at Neobra State Park, and a proposed 4,000-acre lake located between Omaha and Lincoln.
Legislature Speaker Mike Hilgers said the measure would help boost Nebraska’s economy, tourism and recreational offerings. According to legislative estimates, the combined projects will generate an estimated $5.6 billion in economic activity during construction.
“We know that our water resources are incredibly important to this state,” said Lincoln’s Hilgers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.