Lincoln, Neb.— The annual cooperative Water and Natural Resources Tour will visit the Republican River basin in Nebraska and Colorado June 23-25.
“This is a significant part of southwest Nebraska and eastern Colorado that share with Kansas the unique challenges of dividing and using the basin’s limited waters,” said tour co-organizer Steve Ress of the University of Nebraska’s Nebraska Water Center. “There have been substantial water use and litigation issues in the basin for many years among the three states that share its water by compact agreement. Those issues, along with surface and groundwater irrigation issues, should make for a very interesting and informative tour.”
The tour last went there seven years ago.
Basin water use has been contentious since Kansas sued Nebraska in 1998 for noncompliance with the three-state compact. The 1943 compact allocates 49 percent of the river’s water to Nebraska, 40 percent to Kansas and 11 percent to Colorado.
This summer’s tour begins and ends in Holdrege.
On the first day, the tour stops at UNL’s College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis; the N-CORPE (Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement) augmentation pipeline project in the Middle Republican Natural Resources District; and examines how area producers are affected by groundwater and surface water irrigation demands on available water resources. Augmentation projects have been built in both Nebraska and Colorado to help those states comply with the three-state compact, but are controversial.
There will be discussions of the terms of the compact and what producers, NRDs and others are doing, along with an overview of the Nebraska Water Balance Alliance by producer Roric Paulmann.
The tour also stops at the Bonny Reservoir augmentation project near Wray, Colo. The first night’s lodging is in Burlington, Colo.
Tour participants will hear more about basin augmentation projects on the second day, look at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Swanson Reservoir and get an overview of USBR operations at their area office in McCook. A tour of Valmont Industries manufacturing facilities is also planned. The second night’s lodging is in McCook.
On the final day, participants will hear from surface irrigation district representatives and producers and get an overview of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s Harlan County Dam, construction of which was prompted by a 1935 flood that killed more than 100 people. Lunch includes a boat ride on Harlan County Reservoir.
Registration is $625 per person single occupancy or $525 per person double occupancy. Registration includes all lodging, food and motor coach expenses. Space is limited and registration is first-come, first-served. To register, email [email protected] or call 308-995-8601.
Additional tour sponsors are NU’s Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute and Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District, Upper Republican NRD, Middle Republican NRD, Lower Republican NRD, Tri-Basin NRD and Nebraska Rural Radio Association.