The Republican River Dispute Continues

Nov 18, 2013

Credit harvestpublicmedia.org

Kansas and Nebraska continue to struggle for a fair share of Republican River according to The Wichita Eagle.  

In the 1990s, farmers and officials in Kansas accused Nebraska of surpassing its share. Officials in both states had hoped a 2003 settlement would end the dispute. But in 2009, Kansas officials contended that Nebraska used 25.7 billion gallons more in water from the Republican River than it was due in 2005 and 2006.

An arbitrator found that Nebraska’s natural resource districts should cut back on water allocations to farmers – a suggestion Nebraska rejected. But the arbitrator also recommended that Nebraska pay only $10,000 in monetary damages to Kansas.

Kansas officials objected. Lawsuits among states over water are filed directly with the U.S. Supreme Court, which typically appoints a special master to review evidence and make recommendations to the justices. Maine attorney William Kayatta Jr. was named the special master.

In his report Friday, Kayatta rejected Kansas’ demand for appointment of an independent river master to dictate compliance terms for water use. The report also rejected Kansas’ request that Nebraska be found in contempt, because Nebraska took inadequate steps to conserve the river’s water use during drought in the last decade, he said, the state should pay Kansas $5.5million.

The report will be reviewed by the Supreme Court, which is not expected to issue a final ruling until next year.