Initial recommendations concerning the dispute between Nebraska and Kansas regarding water usage from the Republican River Basin are in.
In a draft report released Wednesday by Special Master Kayatta the recommendation was made that Nebraska pay Kansas $5 million for breach of the 1943 Republican River Compact. That is well under the $80 million damage request made by Kansas.
Other recommendations included in the report include:
- Republican River Compact Administration accounting procedures should be corrected for accounting years after2006 so that Nebraska is not charged with the consumption of imported water supply as if it were virgin water supply. The specific terms of thetechnical correction should be established by subsequent order.
- 100 percent of the evaporation from HarlanCounty Lake during 2006 as calculated under the RRCA accounting proceduresshould be charged to Kansas.
- Kansas' request that Nebraska be foundin contempt should be denied.
- All remaining requests for relief,including Kansas' requests for injunctive relief, sanctions, and appointment ofa river master, should be denied.
Attorney General Jon Bruning says he finds Kayatta's initial recommendations encouraging. He says, "While we believe thesuggested $5 million award is too high, we're pleased Kansas' demand for $80million in damages was denied. We also appreciate that Kansas' request forfuture restrictions on water use was denied and that the Special Masteracknowledged Nebraska's accounting concerns. This report is a positive step forour basin irrigators who have worked hard to keep Nebraska in compliance withthe Compact on an annual basis since 2007."
The draft report is still subject to further revision. And both sides will be able to respond to the report at a non-testimonial hearing on Jan. 24.