Lincoln, Nebraska -- The University of Nebraska Public Policy Center will facilitate a task force appointed to address water sustainability of the Republican River Basin. The center will assist the 26-member Republican River Basin Water Sustainability Task Force in meeting its requirements established by LB 1057, introduced by state senators Tom Carlson of Holdrege, Mark Christensen of Imperial and Deb Fischer of Valentine.
The task force's purpose is to define water sustainability in the basin, develop and recommend a plan to reach sustainability and develop and recommend a plan to avoid a water short year. The university's role is to facilitate meetings and draft reports on behalf of the task force. The task force will produce a preliminary report to the governor and the legislature before May 15, 2011, and a final report before May 15, 2012.
With expertise in facilitation techniques, mediation-based methods, consensus-building strategies and team-building exercises, the Public Policy Center also identified experts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln skilled in regulatory issues, experienced with agencies, the private sector, government and the public.
Lead facilitators will be Anthony Schutz, an assistant professor of law at the UNL College of Law, and Nicole Wall, public participation specialist at the university's National Drought Mitigation Center. Schutz specializes in environmental law and water resource management, agriculture law and agricultural environmental law and also focuses on land use and state and local government regulations. Wall specializes in public participation and outreach to stakeholders in water, drought, climate and forensic science.
Chairman of the task force is Tom Terryberry, one of 11 members of the Board of Directors of the Upper Republican Natural Resources District. Terryberry said the task force executive committee was pleased with the selection earlier this month of the Public Policy Center.
"The university's understanding and knowledge of the water issues of the Republican River basin, including compact compliance, will be extremely valuable to the task force successfully completing the important work it is undertaking," Terryberry said.
"We recognize the challenges of meeting the multiple interests facing the basin," said Alan Tomkins, director of the Public Policy Center. "Neutral facilitation will be key to creating a report that is fair and meets the needs of so many diverse stakeholders, who may have much at stake with water management in the basin."
The task force continues its quarterly meetings later this month in Alma.