WALLACE, Nebraska -- The newly formed Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement Project will hold a public hearing Friday to gather input on aspects of the project including possible pipeline routes. The public hearing will begin at 10 a.m. Central time at the American Legion Hall, 217 South Commercial Ave., in Wallace.
A brief presentation of the project will be provided at the hearing, followed by public testimony.
The irrigator-funded project includes more than 19,000 acres, approximately 16,000 of them irrigated, in Lincoln County that N-CORPE intends to purchase and retire from irrigation. Retiring the acres will allow water that otherwise would have been used to irrigate crops on the land to instead be piped into the Platte River and, when needed, a tributary of the Republican River. Doing so will aid Nebraska's efforts to maintain compliance with the Republican River Compact and the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program. In the Platte, NRDs are responsible for returning that basin to water supply-and-demand conditions that existed in 1997 and ultimately reversing an over-appropriated designation to fully appropriated status under state law.
Including land, project development and operations, producing water under the project for both river basins could cost between $300 and $500 an acre foot. By comparison, leasing surface water from irrigation districts in the Republican Basin can cost between $2,000 - $3,000 an acre foot. Permanently retiring irrigated acres close to streams without piping the water and instead allowing groundwater to seep into rivers and tributaries to increase flows can cost approximately $3,000 an acre foot.
N-CORPE consists of the Lower Republican NRD, Middle Republican NRD, Upper Republican NRD and Twin Platte NRD. An $83 million purchase contract for the land and associated improvements has been signed and the closing date for the purchase is Dec. 3.