CURTIS -- Buying water shows Kansas that the district is willing to do what it takes to come into compliance with the Republican River Compact, said Dan Smith, general manager of the Middle Republican Natural Resources District.
But not all board members agreed. The purchase of surface water from the Riverside Irrigation Co., at preliminary costs of $160,000, about $80 per acre, was ultimately postponed so more information could be presented, with board members James Uerling and Buck Haag both voting against the action.
Board member Brad Randel added that a smaller dollar amount be pursued concerning the purchase.
Haag pointed out that it has not been designated a water-short year and if the water was purchased and sent downstream to Kansas, it would not have a large impact on the system. Since irrigators in the Riverside Irrigation Co. are still allowed to pump groundwater after the proposed water is sold, what exactly does the district gain, he asked.
"A little bit of delay," Smith answered, as the district is pro-active in complying with the Republican River Compact.
Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado signed the Compact in 1943, to determine what each state can use from the river. Lawyers from all three states are currently in an arbitration process in Denver concerning Kansas' allegation that Nebraska has used more that what is allowed.
Although a water purchase was not approved Tuesday night, it may come up again in the future: The board directed Smith to continue negotiations with Riverside, along with Frenchman Valley Irrigation District.
Purchasing water from the Frenchman Valley Irrigation District will be more costly than Riverside, Smith said, and district funds are limited.
Haag and Uerling also voted against the request from Frenchman Valley Irrigation District for 11,000 acre feet of surface water to be diverted to natural flow water for downstream use instead of for irrigation. Irrigators in the district would still be allowed to pump their 12-inches of groundwater.
The variance request passed by 9-2.
In reviewing the monthly budget, Smith said the district so far has collected 96 percent of LB 701 property taxes, at $287,728 and 78 percent of occupation taxes or $728,048. Smith said a "motion to reconsider" has been filed in response to the Nebraska Supreme Court's ruling that the property tax created under the water law LB 701 is unconstitutional. If the motion is not granted after 30 days, the districts will have to decide how to re-pay the property taxes collected under LB 701, he said.
Later in the meeting, the board considered 15 water transfer requests whereby irrigators could sell inches of their yearly water allocations to other irrigators in the district.
Of those transfer requests, one was tabled and the rest were passed.
Board members of the MRNRD include: Joseph Anderjaska of Hayes Center, Kevin Fornoff of Hayes Center, Josh Friesen of Wallace, Buck Haag of Bartley, Ben Loomis of Maywood, Rick McConville of Indianola, Dan Nelson of Moorefield, James Uerling of Indianola Brad Randel of Indianola, Marty Shurr of Maywood, and Rick Spencer of Culbertson.