Special Master rules on Republican River water dispute

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By News 5 Staff

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Updated: Mon, 18 Nov 2013 08:32:19 CST

A special master issued a ruling Friday in the ongoing dispute between Nebraska and Kansas over the Republican River.

Special Master William Kayatta rejected Kansas' demand for $80 million in damages and future restrictions on water use.

But, the special master ruled Nebraska should pay Kansas $5.5 million.

Attorney General Jon Bruning reacted to the announcement, saying basin irrigators have worked hard to keep Nebraska in compliance with the Republican River Compact on an annual basis since 2007.

The final report will be reviewed by the United States Supreme Court, but that ruling is not anticipated until 2014.

According to Bruning, Special Master Kayatta made the following recommendations:

  • Kansas’s demand of $80,187,021 should be rejected. Kansas failed to prove it was entitled to an award based on unjust enrichment because it could show no bad faith by Nebraska.
  • Kansas’ claim of actual damage in the amount of $6,577,165 should also be rejected. The Special Master recommends Nebraska should pay $5.5 million.
  • 100% of the evaporation from Harlan County Lake during 2006 (as calculated under the RRCA Accounting Procedures) should be charged to Kansas.
  • Kansas’ demand that Nebraska permanently shut down 302,000 irrigated acres should be rejected.
  • Kansas’ demand for appointment of an independent River Master to dictate compliance terms should be rejected. Kansas failed to demonstrate a credible threat of future non-compliance. Kansas should not be entitled to any additional restrictions on Nebraska water users.
  • Kansas’ request that Nebraska be found in contempt should be denied.
  • All remaining requests by Kansas, including injunctive relief and sanctions, should be denied.

Read the full report here.