New website helps provide river facts

Monday, August 30, 2010

Few issues are more complicated than the struggle between Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska over Republican River water.

The river has been a vital lifeline since prehistoric times, providing precious water to a parched prairie since before the region's earliest European explorers named it in reference to the Kit-ke-hak-i, or Republican Pawnees.

The present dispute dates to the 1940s, before widespread pump irrigation, with the signing of the Republican River Compact, formalizing distribution between the states of a scarce resource.

The advent of pump irrigation and conservation changed the dynamics of the situation tremendously, and the drought earlier this decade exacerbated the problem, causing Kansas to file suit against its neighbor to the north.

Nebraska is in the throes of struggling with compliance with the compact, and many questions remain unanswered, as indicated by an Open Forum letter today, and many previous days.

A new website won't solve the all problems, but should prove to be a valuable resource as the process continues.

Created by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Natural Resources, hosted by the Upper Republican Natural Resources District and created with the help of the Lower, Middle and Tri-Basin Natural Resources Districts, the site is at http://www.rrbdp.org/

As others have pointed out in other debates, we're all entitled to our own opinions, but not our own set of facts. Let's hope the new website helps distinguish between the two.

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