Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts announced on Jan. 10 a $500 million project to divert water out of the South Platte River in Colorado to ensure his state gets its fair share.
At a press conference, Ricketts proposed building a canal in northeastern Colorado and a system of reservoirs in western Nebraska under a 99-year-old compact between the states that regulates the use of waters of the South Platte River.
“The South Platte River Compact dates back to 1923. It’s a standing agreement that entitles Nebraska to water flowing from the South Platte River. We are exercising our rights under this compact to build a canal that will secure our water rights,” Ricketts, a Republican, said.
“The water access from this canal is essential as we work to preserve, protect, manage, and be good stewards of our state’s resources. It will safeguard water access now and for generations to come,” Ricketts further said.
Ricketts’ proposal came amid concerns that Colorado’s current plans of nearly 300 projects and over $10 billion of expenditures would ensure no “excess” water leaves it state.
According to Ricketts, Colorado’s plans would reduce water flows to Nebraska by as much as 90%.
The move would likely prompt lawsuits between the states.
Democratic Colorado Governor Jared Polis is reviewing the matter, according to his spokesperson.
“The governor just learned of this situation and we are working to understand it more thoroughly at this time including a legal and operational analysis. Governor Polis continues to oppose the diversion of precious water resources from Colorado,” Polis’ spokesperson said, according to Nebraska TV.
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