Letter to the Editor

The way it is

Monday, January 21, 2008

Dear Editor,

I would like to comment on an opinion in the Jan. 19 Gazette by ("The Way I See It") Dick Trail "Inferior solution to the water problem."

I take issue with some of the conclusions he makes and I strongly disagree with his statement "next week the Friends of the River will have a hearing of a lawsuit they brought against Nebraska as a direct result of an unjust attempt to allocate water."

I am sure he will (after reading the brief) agree that the suit DOES NOT address the subject of water allocation and ONLY challenges the method of taxation to pay for the water purchased.

Mr. Trail is not alone in what seems to be an attempt to complicate this lawsuit, others include (understandably) the author of 701.

The fact is, there is no reason to demonize a group (with doomsday rhetoric) who are making a legitimate challenge as to who is taxed to pay for this water.

The decision in this case will ONLY decide if the local tax base pays it all or the entire state pays. With regard to our water problems, I wish it were as simple as Mr. Stossel and Mr. Trail suggest.

They opine that all we need to do is give landowners complete control and our water problems are over, when the facts suggest that landowners' complete control may be the problem, evidenced by the loss of Enders Reservoir.

I have seen no credible challenge to the fact that over-appropriation of groundwater caused this event. There can be no challenge to the statistical inverse relationship of, number of wells drilled and stream flows.

Are there other water limiting issues? Yes, but do they have the ability to lower the water table 50 feet and reduce stream flow to the extent of destroying the viability of Enders Reservoir? I think not.

There are many good things about private control and most farmers are good stewards of the land. In this case, the fact is our water resource is larger than the family farm, therefore it requires state policy, oversight and control.

It is unrealistic to think landowners have the knowledge and expertise to manage their share of OUR water in a fair and balanced way given the complexity of the resource and the difficulty to make a profit.

The fact is that either the state has not provided or enforced policy so that NRDs would implement necessary rules and quotas to protect against over appropriation, or their guidance has been faulty.

This is a vital issue and we need to get and implement the best information and technology to enable us to go forward with maximum sustainable levels of irrigation. We must remember, water is a finite resource and we may well be beyond a sustainable level.

If so, it will require a very painful adjustment in irrigated acres, but an inevitable adjustment, not unlike the adjustment Enders surface irrigators had to make.

And that is THE WAY IT IS.

Richard Drake


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