Water woes in southern Nebraska loom again

By Margery A. Beck

Associated Press

Published: Friday, April 8 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

In this April 5, 2011 photo, the Republican River is seen near Guide Rock, Neb., with an irrigation pivot alongside it. A legal battle between Kansas and Nebraska over use of the river's water has reignited after the U.S. Supreme Court recently decided that Kansas can proceed with a lawsuit against Nebraska over use of the river's water. In addition to some $72 million in damages, Kansas is seeking to force Nebraska to stop irrigating about 500,000 acres in the Republican River basin.

Nati Harnik, Associated Press

OMAHA, Neb. — A U.S. Supreme Court decision that breathed new life into a decades-long water-rights dispute on the Great Plains has renewed concerns among southern Nebraska farmers about what could happen to their livelihoods.

Kansas is seeking to shut off irrigation to 500,000 acres of Nebraska farmland in the states' legal battle over the Republican River. That's about half of the basin's 1.2 million irrigated acres.

Nebraska officials say that would be devastating not only to scores of farmers, but to the entire state economy.

But University of Nebraska agricultural economist Ray Supalla says that "isn't going to happen."

A federally appointed arbitrator agreed in a 2009 report that Kansas' request was overreaching.

Try out the new DeseretNews.com design!
try beta learn more
Get The Deseret News Everywhere