Kansas, Nebraska Should Pay for Compact Violations

Attorney General Paul Morrison and the Kansas Division of Water Resources recently demanded that Nebraska officials significantly reduce their state’s water usage and pay monetary damages for violations of the Republican River compact.

Letters were sent to Ann Bleed, director of the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources and Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning.

“Actions by the state of Nebraska have been grossly insufficient and unacceptable, resulting in significant injury to Kansas,” Morrison said. “Steps currently being contemplated by Nebraska will continue to be insufficient and continue to deprive Kansans of the water they need.”

In light of these violations, Kansas proposes a finding by the U.S. Supreme Court that Nebraska is in violation of the Court's decree; payment of money damages for the 2005-2006 violations; and an immediate shutdown of wells within 2 ½ miles of the Republican River and its tributaries and on irrigated lands added after the year 2000.

“Nebraska has consistently failed to adequately address their water use,” Morrison said. “We feel that this remedy proposal is fair and begins to address the growing depletions in groundwater resulting from Nebraska’s inaction.”

The shutdown of groundwater irrigation requested impacts more than 500,000 acres. Nebraska has 45 days to consider the proposed remedy. If the Republican River Compact Administration does not resolve the dispute within that period, Kansas intends to initiate the dispute resolution process called for under the 2003 Supreme Court decree.

Nebraska used 82,870 acre-feet of water beyond what it was entitled to in 2005 and 2006. That amount of water is about what a city of 100,000 uses in 10 years.

“Kansas farmers have suffered due to Nebraska’s irresponsible groundwater use,” Morrison said. “It is time Nebraska took real action to meet its obligations.”

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