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Comment: The Republican River is a major tributary to the Kansas River
Six: Enforce river compact
BY THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL
May 4, 2010 - 3:11pm
Attorney General Steve Six on Tuesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to enforce a 2003 decree approving a settlement between Kansas and Nebraska outlining the states' rights to water from the Republican River basin.
According to the filing, Nebraska has violated the compact and failed to take actions to avoid future violations, especially in the inevitable dry periods to come.
"Nebraska has failed to live up to the obligations under the compact, despite assurances given to the Supreme Court and our attempts to resolve this conflict through arbitration," Six said. "Kansas farmers and communities have been deprived of the water they rely upon in the past and will again under Nebraska's current policies. My office will continue this fight until Nebraska complies with our agreement."
Kansas' pleading argues that Nebraska should be held in contempt of court for not obeying the court's 2003 decree adopting the final settlement stipulation; that the court should take action against Nebraska to ensure that Nebraska won't violate the compact again; and that Nebraska should pay damages to Kansas for violations of the decree. Kansas also asks the court to take certain other actions to ensure Nebraska's compliance.
"Our state's actions in this matter are, and always have been, to ensure that we get the water we are due under the compact and settlement," said David Barfield, chief engineer of the Kansas Department of Agriculture's division of water resources, which manages Kansas' interests in interstate water issues, including the Republican River Compact. "We're not trying to be litigious. We just want Nebraska to be fair."
In June, 2009, an arbitrator found Nebraska hadn't adhered to the compact and deprived Kansas of its vital water resources and that Nebraska must take additional action to comply with obligations. That arbitration exhausted Kansas' options under the Republican River Compact's dispute resolution process. The remaining recourse is to ask the Supreme Court to direct Nebraska to comply with the compact.
"Kansas families suffer due to Nebraska's irresponsible actions," Six said. "We believe the Supreme Court will recognize this and direct Nebraska to, finally, live up to its obligations."
Kansas' pleading states that:
— Nebraska has violated a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decree.
— Nebraska exceeded its compact allocation by 78,960 acre-feet for the years 2005 and 2006, depriving Kansas of its rightful share of the Republican River.
— Nebraska's current plan for achieving compliance is inadequate. Nebraska must face and address the effects of its decades of overdevelopment and needs to make significant reductions in its use.