Arbitrator leaves many questions unanswered

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

There was nothing "arbitrary" about an arbiter's decision about the Republican River, and that is how it should be.

On one hand, Nebraska should breath a sigh of relief that Colorado-based expert Karl Dreher didn't go along with Kansas' contention that all wells within 2.5 miles of the Republican River be shut off, or that millions of dollars are owed for water for which Kansas was entitled but never received, mostly because of the recent drought.

On the other hand, years of work by Natural Resources Districts along the Republican River haven't been enough to keep Nebraska in compliance, and if Kansas can prove its actual costs in lost water, it may yet be owed millions of dollars from Nebraska.

Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado will have to sit down and resolve many issues, such as how and where the water is measured, Dreher said, and shouldn't expect a River Master to be appointed to make the decisions for them.

Yes, it will mean many more years of uncertainty and conflict over our area's most valuable resource, and the issue is almost certain to land in court again.

And, it certainly does nothing to help resolve the LB 701 fiasco.

But at last Nebraska has not been saddled, immediately, with a multi-million-dollar judgment at a time of economic stress.

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