Lower Republican NRD pulls out of basin coalition
By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
Membership in the Republican River Basin Coalition dropped from three natural resources districts (NRDs) to two Friday.
During an emergency phone meeting Friday, representatives of the Upper and Middle Republican NRDs voted to allow the Lower Republican NRD to withdraw from the coalition.
Members of the LRNRD took action at a meeting last week to request withdrawal from the coalition formed in 2007 to deal jointly with compact compliance issues with Kansas.
Both the URNRD and MRNRD voted to approve LRNRD’s request to withdraw.
The vote was approved on the condition the LRNRD pay their proportionate share of outstanding bills of the coalition.
The LRNRD was not represented during the call.
Mike Clements, manager of the LRNRD, told the Kearney Hub the coalition has been hindered from its objectives due to several lawsuits challenging funding options for compliance activities.
He indicated the LRNRD wants to focus its efforts on a 22-member Republican River Sustainability Task Force created by the passage of LB 1057.
Jasper Fanning, manager of the URNRD, said this week he was surprised by the Lower’s action.
He said the Lower has indicated they wanted to work together towards the purpose of the coalition.
However, that progress has been slowed by the lawsuits.
Now that some resolution may be on the horizon, Fanning found the Lower’s timing to withdraw peculiar.
Fanning said it was disappointing that the LRNRD won’t be part of the coalition going forward.
During last week’s regular URNRD meeting, Fanning said the Tri-Basin NRD, which includes part of the Republican Basin, has expressed interest in joining the coalition.
The Tri-Basin NRD has acres in the basin’s rapid response area that could possibly be shut down in water-short years.
Fanning said if the coalition is successful in developing an augmentation program, those acres in the Tri-Basin could benefit if the NRD was a member of the coalition.
In other related action, the LRNRD voted to purchase a share of the water from the Frenchman-Cambridge Irrigation District that was released from Red Willow Dam.
Water stored behind the dam north of McCook was released in recent months to lower the level to a safe condition after cracks were found in the dam.