Kansas and Colorado settle longstanding dispute over Republican River water use
On Wednesday, August 1, the governors and attorneys general of Kansas and Colorado announced that they have reached a settlement of claims regarding Colorado’s past use of water under the Republican River Compact. The Compact allocates the waters of the basin between the states of Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas. See the agreement HERE.
2018 Annual Meeting of the Republican River Compact Administration
The Republican River Compact Administration (RRCA) will hold its 2018 Annual Meeting at 10:00 A.M. on August 21st at the Kansas Department of Agriculture offices in Manhattan, Kansas, in room 124. The annual meeting agenda will be posted here in the near future.
In addition, the RRCA will hold a work session during the morning of August 21st starting at 8:00 a.m., at the same location. The work session agenda will be posted here in the near future.
Both meetings are open to the public. For more information, view the full press release -to be posted shortly.
Historic agreements reached at 56th RRCA Annual Meeting held on August 24th, 2016
After more than two years of negotiations among the States, the Republican River Compact Administration approved two resolutions on August 24 establishing long-term agreements among Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska related to Colorado’s and Nebraska’s compliance activities in the Republican River basin. These long-term agreements align Colorado’s and Nebraska’s compliance activities with Kansas water user’s needs in both the South Fork Republican River of Northwest Kansas in the main stem Republican River of Northcentral Kansas.
In June 2014, the States entered into monthly discussions in an effort to reach agreements that would provide appropriate credit in the Compact accounting for Colorado’s and Nebraska’s compliance activities while providing Kansas users the water they are entitled to in a way that maximizes its usefulness and minimizes waste.
The States’ efforts resulted in a series of six interim agreements. The success of those agreements and the experience that the States gained from them led to these two long-term agreements, one focused on Colorado’s augmentation project (the Colorado Compliance Pipeline or CCP), and the second on Nebraska’s two-augmentation projects, Rock Creek and the Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement (N-CORPE).
What the long-term agreements provide
The Colorado agreement provides a path forward to improve stream-flow in the South Fork Republican River, which flows through Cheyenne County in northwest Kansas. Colorado will receive full credit in the Compact accounting for its augmentation deliveries on the North Fork Republican River, and has committed to retire an additional 25,000 groundwater-irrigated acres within the South Fork Republican River basin to improve flows into Kansas.
Colorado and Kansas also agreed to explore opportunities to utilize Bonny Reservoir which Colorado drained in 2012 to help offset its overuse of the Basin’s water supply and move Colorado closer to compliance with the Compact.
The Nebraska agreement provides Kansas water users much more certainty that there will be a viable irrigation supply in dry periods. Nebraska will receive full credit in the Compact accounting for its compliance activities, including its augmentation deliveries, provided that the water generated by its activities (Compliance Water) is delivered to Harlan County Reservoir in Nebraska for Kansas water users’ use.
The agreement provides Nebraska with an 18-month window, beginning in October before a year that is forecasted to be dry, to deliver the Compliance Water to Harlan County Lake, and provides Kansas with the ability to either call for delivery of this water as needed, or leave it in ground, not pumped by one of Nebraska’s augmentation projects to meet test of Compact compliance, but rather available to Kansas water users at some future time when it’s needed more.
The waters of the Republican River as it flows into northcentral Kansas through the Courtland Canal in Jewel County are used principally by the Kansas Bostwick Irrigation District, but there are other Kansas water users in the Upper Republican River Basin that may benefit from Nebraska’s investment in Compact compliance. The agreement also sets a framework and a path forward to make water in excess of KBID’s needs available to downstream users.
Each of the agreements includes a provision requiring a future review of its effectiveness, and each agreement can be terminated by any one of the states with two year’s notice.
Individuals who have questions regarding the meeting should contact KDA Water Management Services Program Manager Chris Beightel at Chris.Beightel@ks.gov for more information.