Water

Nebraska’s water solutions shouldn’t hurt Colorado – Sterling Journal-Advocate

The partnership will bring more water from the South Platte River to Nebraska, rather than trying to complete a ditch that has been abandoned for more than a century.

That was the consensus at a freewheeling panel in Sterling on Monday afternoon, as Nebraska Sen. Teresa Thibodeau met with Colorado water experts to learn more about crossing the july The state line near Lesburg flows into her state’s water.

Thibodeau is the Republican nominee for governor of Nebraska. Current Gov. Pete Ricketts proposed that her visit complete the excavation of the Perkins County Canal from the South Platte River near Ovid to a reservoir somewhere in Nebraska. The canal is permitted under the terms of the South Platte River Compact of 1923 and can divert up to 500 cubic feet of flow per second from the river. But without the canal, Nebraska cannot exercise its water rights.

Ricketts urged that the canal, begun in the late 1890s, be built as soon as possible before Colorado’s development of the South Platte Divide and Nebraska’s rivers “dry up.” So far, Nebraska lawmakers have been reluctant to fund the $500 million the governor wants to kick off the program.

Panelists included Thibodeau, South Platte Roundtable member Bruce Gerk, Prewitt and North Sterling Reservoir Manager Jim Yahn, Riverside Irrigation District Manager near Sterling Don Chapman and Lower South General Manager Joe Frank Platter Water District. Among the dozen attendees were Colorado Senator Sterling’s Jerry Sonnenberg, former state Senator and Agriculture Commissioner Don Ament, LSPWCD Vice President Gene Manuello and Logan County Commissioner Byron Pelton.

During Monday’s discussion, Thibodeau made it clear that Nebraskans will do whatever is necessary to protect the water they now have access to, and that they have rights in the 1923 compact.

“When I traveled around the state, the number one problem for farmers was water. It just wasn’t enough,” she said. “But to me, being governor is about growing our entire state.”

Later, the senator said that whatever solution is devised must be beneficial to everyone who depends on the river for a living.

“It always comes back to whether we end up hurting rivers, not just in Nebraska, but in Colorado,” she said.

Yann. Chapman and Frank gave Thibodeau a short course on the state of Colorado’s water resources. The most important point, and one they repeatedly emphasize, is the backflow and seepage of Colorado irrigation that made South Platte the year-round river it is today.

Sonnenberg pointedly asked the panel that if Colorado had to try to deliver 500 cubic feet of water to the Perkins Canal at 500 cubic feet per second, then the numerous water augmentation projects running along the lower reaches of the Colorado River during the winter what happens. Projects that replace pumps to pump water during the irrigation season are “likely” to be compromised, resulting in reduced pumping, Chapman said. It may also reduce the return flow that ends up in Nebraska.

One of the worst myths about the river is the amount of water that flows out of Colorado, Manuello said. While it’s true spring runoff and occasional flooding that sends a lot of water downstream, these events are short-lived and may not be useful in the Perkins Canal, he said.

Towards the end of the meeting, Sonnenberg suggested Colorado and Nebraska work together to protect water and agriculture in both states. Sonnenberg had previously messaged Governor Ricketts to meet to discuss the possibility, but said he never heard back.

After the meeting, Thibodeau said she agreed that interstate cooperation was the best way to protect both states’ access to water.

“I learned that our friends in Colorado had no intention of getting water from Nebraska,” she said. “All of us have a common goal of having access to water for everyone, not just to irrigate their farms, but an essential part of life. It would be a better way to connect with our friends in the states solutions, rather than just trying to do it all yourself.”

Ament told the Journal-Advocate that PRRIP would be the perfect model for a mutually beneficial collaboration on storage projects.

“The recovery project is a model for every recovery program in the United States,” he said. “It works, it works, it’s a working model, it’s been proven, it’s even been rewarded by the (U.S.) Department of the Interior. It works.”

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