Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Republican River Compact Proposal Heard

In a special meeting of the Republican River Compact Administration (RRCA) held telephonically on December 11, 2012, the three commissioners (Dick Wolfe, Colorado; Brian Dunnigan, Nebraska; and David Barfield, Kansas) considered an augmentation proposal at the request of Nebraska Commissioner Dunnigan.

The Nebraska group laid out the proposal in conceptual form and asked if the other commissioners had any concerns at this early juncture - before much more time and effort is spent on the rest of the proposal.  They were clear to announce that the concepts being presented yesterday had already included all the concerns expressed by Kansas months ago as the concept was being prepped to place on paper.

The proposal included converting 15,800 acres of irrigated land (all but 800 acres or so of which lay in the Republican River basin indicated by the yellow basin boundary line) and then pumping some amount of groundwater into Medicine Creek to flow directly into the Republican River and on to Harland Reservoir - a key element of the entire compact accounting scheme.  Nebraska claimed this proposal was a water transfer solution bringing Platte River water into the basin, which is authorized by the Final Settlement Stipulation (FSS), while Kansas kept characterizing it as an augmentation plan since 95% of the donor land, and likely all the donor wells, are and would be in the Republican basin.

It will be interesting how this gets resolved, because the project area sits clearly within the recognized groundwater "mound" area created by long-term surface irrigation in the Republican and Platte River basins by Platte River water.

Kansas and Colorado both asked for more clarification on why Nebraska feels this solution is authorized by the FSS, and lamented that the proposal was just received the day before the meeting.  Kansas also didn't believe it had addressed all the concerns expressed months ago.  Both states asked for more time which seemed to disappoint Nebraska who kept stating that "..time was of the essence.." as they needed to get the project completed in the next 6-8 months.

Things were left as many of the issues regarding this contentious compact have been left before - too little agreement on the important issues and very cautious approaches on everything else.  I suppose this issue will get settled one of these days.

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