URNRD opposes North Platte senator’s LB 218
The Upper Republican Natural Resources District joined five other entities in testifying against Sen. Mike Groene’s LB 218 that would affect the N-CORPE augmentation project.
LB 218 represents a product stemming from hearings Sen. Groene held that addressed the augmentation project and other water issues in the state. The project rests within Groene’s 42nd District.
LB 218 establishes procedures for acquiring or using land to pump groundwater for the purposes of augmenting water supplies to comply with an interstate compact.
Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement Project (N-CORPE) was formed through an interlocal agreement to purchase the land and develop an augmentation project.
Members include the Upper, Middle and Lower Republican Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) in the Republican River Basin and the Twin Platte NRD located in the Platte River Basin.
The land, 19,514 acres, is located in southwest Lincoln County and served as the location for the largest streamflow augmentation project ever in Nebraska.
Among provisions in the bill is one that would require (N-CORPE) to sell off the land at market value while retaining the right to pump the groundwater for augmentation.
After periodic review of the project, if pumping is no longer necessary, the water rights would revert back to the owner of record of the land.
During his testimony, Upper Republican NRD Manager Jasper Fanning said selling the land is not the major issue. It’s the consequences and risks associated with selling the land that are the problem.
Fanning said the N-CORPE board has discussed selling the land and the potential consequences, impacts and legal hurdles.
The issue, he told the Natural Resources Committee, is that Nebraska water law is founded in common law that ties the volume of water that can be withdrawn to the amount of land owned.
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