Why should farmers be paying closer attention to this plan to retire 15,000 acres of irrigated ground in Lincoln County? There is no guarantee this will avoid severe pumping restrictions.
The land cost $83 million, $27 million estimated for the pumps and pipeline to put water into the Medicine Creek, and the pipeline going to the Platte River will cost about $20 million more. That totals up to $130 million dollars! With 3 percent interest and 20 years to repay and you add $48 million more to the project! That means the project could cost $178,000,000!
That's a pretty high price tag for a project that Kansas hasn't signed off on ahead of time. There are no guarantees that this plan will satisfy Kansas. Water put into Medicine Creek has to travel at least 150 miles before it ever has a hope of reaching Kansas. Our NRD managers say that it doesn't actually have to get to Kansas, that we'll measure it where the Medicine empties into the Republican.
If Kansas doesn't get money or water, they'll just sue Nebraska again. We know the Legislature will just scratch out $10 per acre occupation tax and put in a larger amount. Then we'll be looking at pumping restrictions again, or doing another project.
This plan has the Republican basin Natural Resource Districts' farmers paying the lions share of the deal and getting fleeced as far as the water goes. The plan is to give the Platte River 7700 acre feet of water every year. The Republican basin gets twice that much water but only about once in three years. That means that 50 percent more water goes to the Platte River than goes toward the Republican. Yet the three Republican Natural Resource districts have agreed to pay three-fourths of the cost of the project! Does that seem fair to you?
This plan leaves Southwest Nebraska with less money and less water than it had before.
What can you do? Ask your Natural Resource District board members and managers a lot of questions. Demand that we get some guarantees from Kansas and the State of Nebraska that this plan is going to work. Before we've spent all the money and end up right back where we started, facing pumping restrictions!