It may be time to clarify a few more issues surrounding the water in the Republican River Basin. First, several NRD publications indicate that if you shut down all the wells it will only increase the stream flows enough to irrigate less than 5,000 acres. This fact may be true but it would lead the normal reader to assume it is the position of surface water users that all wells must be shut off. This is not true. The management of a water supply should include all those who share the supply. The IMP (Integrated Management Plan) of the local NRD has a stated goals to:
1. Ensure that ground water and surface water users within the LRNRD assume their share of the responsibility to keep Nebraska in compliance with the Republican River Compact.
2. Provide that LRNRD's share of that responsibility be distributed in an equitable manner and to minimize adverse economic, social and environmental consequences to the extent possible.
3. To sustain a balance between water uses and water supplies within the LRNRD so that the economic viability, social and environmental health, safety, and welfare of the LRNRD can be achieved and maintained for both the near and long term.
I am not aware of any written details and time frame for this equity and sustainability. The Republican River Compact is a consumptive use compact and is only dependant on river flows to determine the size of the State allocation. That is why such focus is given to the River flows. The more water that crosses the state line the more Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado are entitled to use. I have heard several people say they must leave the water in the River because that is "Kansas's water. lt would be more accurate to say it is "Nebraska's obligation" due to their pumping and diversion consumption. If Colorado is in compliance it has no obligation to anyone. If Kansas is in compliance it has to obligation to anyone. If Nebraska is in compliance it owes no one flows at the state line.
At times, I have heard some NRD's proclaim they represent surface water because their board is elected from the general population. If this were true, why would they not oppose 100,000 irrigated acres losing their water supply? This could not be good for the environment, the economy or their ability to achieve their stated goals.
One final point for this letter is that I have heard the NARD and NRD's mention they wish the local irrigation districts would work with the NRDs like they do on the Platte. This has happened several times. lt would have happened more if the NRD's would have wanted it to. For example, an agreement was drafted for the use of stored water between the Bostwick Irrigation District in Nebraska and the LRNRD. The NRD walked away. A resolution to keep the water use, consumption or benefit of any water use curtailment (such as the 100,000 surface irrigated acres) to the local NRD and area of the curtailment was promoted by the irrigation districts to help the local NRD's. Five irrigation districts and one NRD voted for it and three NRD's abstained.
Manager, Bostwick Irrigation District