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Public Meeting on Republic River Water Compact

All area residents using irrigation wells and who are affected by the Dec. 15, 2002 ruling on water flow to Nebraska and Kansas are invited to a public meeting Sept. 27, at 7:30 pm, at the Phillips County Fairgrounds Community Building in Holyoke, Colo. The purpose of the meeting is to educate well users on the new regulations, as well as to discuss the impact of Senate Bill 235, passed during the 2004 Colorado Legislative Session.

Present at the meeting will be Pete Ampe, Colorado’s assistant attorney general, who wrote Senate Bill 235, and Ken Knox, assistant state water engineer. In addition, newly-elected Republican River Compact board members Kimbra Killin and Gary Kramer will be attending.

Senate Bill 235 allows for the formation of a water district so that users can make their own decisions on how best to comply with the court ruling, also called the Republican River Compact.

Depletions from the more than 4000 irrigation wells in the Republican River Basin within Colorado must be included in accounting under the Republican River Compact. To comply with the compact, Colorado must either restrict well use, or develop a plan to replace the well depletions.

“There are a lot of producers who may not realize they will be affected by this compact,” said Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) President John Stencel who will be in attendance at the forum. “Compliance is a reality. Producers in eastern Colorado need to learn what their obligation will be and how they can comply.”

The compact is the conclusion to a four-year legal battle that began May 26, 1998, when the State of Kansas filed a complaint to the United States Supreme Court that claimed the State of Nebraska had violated the Republican River Compact by allowing the unimpeded development of thousands of wells in hydraulic connection with the Republican River and its tributaries. Kansas further alleged that Nebraska was using more water than its allocation under the compact and was depriving Kansas of its full entitlement. The State of Colorado was later included in the lawsuit, which came to be known as Kansas v. Nebraska and Colorado, No. 126 Original, because the headwaters of the Republican begin in Colorado.

Throughout the process, a judge concluded ground water is to be included within the allocation and consumptive use computations in the Republican River Compact. Following extensive mediation, an agreement between the three states was reached. The agreement which now is part of the compact will require monitoring and reductions in usage of water from wells which feed the Republican River.