Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska come to Republican River Compact agreement after years of litigation
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Though water in three landlocked, semi-arid states will always be contentious, Nebraska, Colorado and Kansas are now two steps closer to harmony after a history of conflict over the Republican River Basin.
Last month, the Republican River Compact Administration signed two resolutions, according to a release from the office of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s, D-Colo. The aim of these resolutions were to increase communication and improve management of the Republican River, which begins in Colorado, flows into Kansas, then into Nebraska and back into Kansas.
Jeff Fassett, director of the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, told the Nebraska Radio Network he believes these resolutions will allow the states to use the water from the river with more flexibility.
“We think it does create more certainty, and that’s what we hear so often from the water users in this state,” Fassett said to the Nebraska Radio Network. “The frustrations that surface water people have is that they’re in a less predictable situation than people who drill the wells.”
The Republican River Compact was signed in 1942 to ensure each state with a stake in the Republican River gets fair and equitable use. In the years since it was signed, the compact has been a point of controversy for the three states involved, and has also been the cause of various legal action for the past 15 years. After last week’s agreement, several officials from each state issued statements saying they were happy to move toward cooperation.
“These resolutions represent a long-term strategy for representing each state and ultimately improving water management for water users in all three states,” said Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts in a news release from his office.
After the announcement of the agreement, several agricultural organizations also responded in favor of the reconciliation.
“This is a great example of how states can work together to resolve conflicts and reach agreements on some of our most valuable resources such as water,” said Colorado Farm Bureau president Don Shawcroft in a release. “This agreement is a breath of fresh air, as it takes water out of the courtroom and back into our farms and ranches.” ❖
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