October 24, 2014

Nebraska wins key point in dispute with Kansas over Republican River (AUDIO)

Nebraska has gotten a big win in its dispute with Kansas over use of the water that flows through the Republican River.

Special Master William Kayatta has rejected Kansas’ claim that Nebraska owes it $80 million for violating the Republican River Compact of 1943.

“We’re very encouraged by it,” says Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning. “I certainly don’t want to do any sort of an end zone dance, but I mean Kansas asked for $80 million and the special master agreed that they deserved $5 million.”

The special master, appointed by the United States Supreme Court, found that Nebraska farmers violated the compact in 2005 and 2006, taking out 71,000 acre feet of water more than allowed. The report also denies a request to shut off the water from Nebraska farmers who use the Republican River for irrigation.

Bruning expects more such legal disputes as the drought lingers and water becomes even more precious.

“The old adage, whisky’s for drinking and water’s for fighting about,” Bruning says. “It’s as precious as it gets. I mean, water is life.”

Comments will be taken later this month before the Special Master sends his report to the Supreme Court.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]