Initial Report is in for Kansas/Nebraska Republican River Disput - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Initial Report is in for Kansas/Nebraska Republican River Dispute

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Initial recommendations concerning the dispute between Nebraska and Kansas regarding water usage from the Republican River Basin are in.

In a draft report released Wednesday by Special Master Kayatta the recommendation was made that Nebraska pay Kansas $5 million for breach of the 1943 Republican River Compact. That is well under the $80 million damage request made by Kansas.

Other recommendations included in the report include:

  • Republican River Compact Administration accounting procedures should be corrected for accounting years after 2006 so that Nebraska is not charged with the consumption of imported water supply as if it were virgin water supply. The specific terms of the technical correction should be established by subsequent order.
  • 100 percent of the evaporation from Harlan County Lake during 2006 as calculated under the RRCA accounting procedures should be charged to Kansas.
  • Kansas' request that Nebraska be found in contempt should be denied.
  • All remaining requests for relief, including Kansas' requests for injunctive relief, sanctions, and appointment of a river master, should be denied.

Attorney General Jon Bruning says he finds Kayatta's initial recommendations encouraging. He says, "While we believe the suggested $5 million award is too high, we're pleased Kansas' demand for $80 million in damages was denied. We also appreciate that Kansas' request for future restrictions on water use was denied and that the Special Master acknowledged Nebraska's accounting concerns. This report is a positive step for our basin irrigators who have worked hard to keep Nebraska in compliance with the Compact on an annual basis since 2007."

The draft report is still subject to further revision. And both sides will be able to respond to the report at a non-testimonial hearing on Jan. 24.

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