Task force makeup seems likely to leave McCook short

Friday, May 21, 2010

We had high hopes for LB 1057, a bill created to deal with the ongoing struggle to deal with the conflict between Nebraska and Kansas over the Republican River.

Thankfully, Mother Nature has been providing adequate rainfall over the past couple of years, but it's only a matter of time before the solutions the Republican River Basin Water Sustainability Task Force, created by the bill, will need to be put into play.

Judging from the makeup of the task force, however, we wonder how well the largest town on the river is going to be represented.

Despite a number of local applicants, only one representative from McCook, Ralph Scott, was appointed to the board.

We have no reason to doubt the integrity of the 22 voting members appointed by the governor, nor the four state senators appointed as non-voting members by the chairman of the Legislature's Executive Board.

But it's only natural for members of any body to represent the interests of their hometowns or organization, and that's the reason LB 1057 designated delegates from the various Natural Resources Districts, irrigation districts, public power districts, cities, counties, schools and ag-related businesses.

Scanning the voting list, there are three from Imperial, two from Hayes Center, one each from Orleans, Red Cloud, Bertrand, Benkelman, Holdrege, Wauneta, Haigler and Guide Rock, two from Culbertson, two from Cambridge and, again, only one from McCook.

Other voting members include Greg Ibach of the Department of Agriculture, Brian Dunnigan of the Department of Natural Resources, Jerrod Burke of the Game & Parks Commission, Charles Burr of the University of Nebraska, and non voting members Sens. Tom Carlson of Holdrege, Mark Christensen of Imperial, Tom Hansen of North Platte and Chris Langemeier of Schuyler.

The main responsibilities of the task force are: 1. Defining water sustainability for the Republican River Basin and 2. Developing a plan for achieving water sustainability in the basin.

On the face of it, it seems, the McCook area is in danger of being under-represented in this important process.

We hope we're wrong.

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