Arbitrator says Nebraska owes Kansas $10k for water usage

Chris Rizo Jul. 2, 2009, 4:34am

Jon Bruning (R)

LINCOLN, Neb. (Legal Newsline)-The arbitrator appointed to resolve a multistate water fight among Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska says Nebraska has violated a U.S. Supreme Court decree.

Arbitrator Karl Dreher recommended in his nonbinding decision that Nebraska pay Kansas $10,000 in damages for overusing the Republican River's water. Additionally, Dreher rejected Nebraska's proposed changes to the way water allocations are calculated.

If any of the parties disagree with the arbitrator's decision they can take their issued to the U.S. Supreme Court in the next 30 days.

Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska entered arbitration to resolve complaints that Nebraska was failing to comply with a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court settlement over the Republican River Compact.

In a statement, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said he was pleased that the arbitrator rejected Kansas officials' arguments that monetary damages should be based on Nebraska's gains from using more water than it was allocated.

The ruling reduced Kansas' claim from $72 million, the Republican attorney general said.

"Nebraska is very pleased by the arbitrator's award which finds actual harm to Kansas was nominal," Bruning said. "The award represents a fraction of the original $72 million demand."

The Republican River is a 24,900 square-mile basin that begins in Colorado and flows first into Kansas, then Nebraska and back into Kansas, where it meets the Smoky Hill River to form the Kansas River.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

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