As a director of the MRNRD, I felt it was necessary to take a moment to set the record straight on what really happened with the "Lincoln County Farms" purchase (N-CORPE). While this project is not a magic bullet that solves every issue of water policy that our basin faces, it is a giant step in the right direction in achieving long-term compliance with the compact.
I fully understand that the size and scope of this project can cause a lot of angst, but I feel when you objectively look at the costs vs. the benefits, it is an overwhelmingly positive undertaking.
Would it have been nice to have a year to evaluate and re-evaluate every possible issue with this purchase? Absolutely. We simply didn't have that luxury. While no one can plan for every possible contingency, this is the type of opportunity that doesn't come around very often, and we needed to act before this opportunity was gone.
To begin with, four NRD's went together to purchase this property. It is not just the Middle Republican NRD. Of the four NRD's involved, the vote was 40 to 4 in favor of moving forward with the project. This purchase will be funded entirely with occupation tax. If you are not an irrigated land owner, you WILL NOT pay for this project. Yes, there will be a significant drop in tax revenue in the districts where this land is located, but the NRDs are willing to work with the affected districts to try to minimize those impacts as much as possible.
The N-CORPE Project is looking to retire 15,784 certified acres. In years when necessary, a portion of that saved water will be pumped into the stream to fulfill our obligation with Kansas. Yes, this is a large impact to our area, but it pales in comparison to the retirement of the 300,000 acres that Kansas proposed. N-CORPE will have a much smaller economic impact than a drastic cut to our allocation. There are approximately 1.2 million acres in the Republican River Basin, and it would be necessary to impose, at least, a 50 percent cut in allocation to achieve the same accounting benefit to the compact. This would have roughly the same effect as retiring 600,000 acres in the basin. Try to imagine the economic impact this remedy would have to our communities.