U.S. Water News Online
TOPEKA, Kan. -- Attorney General Carla Stovall's office
can't predict when Colorado will begin paying Kansas monetary damages
from a lawsuit between the two states over the Arkansas River.
Spokeswoman Mary Tritsch said too many uncertainties remain, despite
a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
The justices recently ruled that Kansas is entitled to interest as
well as monetary damages, though not as much as Kansas officials had
sought. ``There's just too many unknowns to know when a check will be
cut,'' Tritsch said.
Kansas sued Colorado in 1985 over the low water levels in the
Arkansas River in western Kansas, arguing that Colorado violated a
1949 compact by taking more water from the river than allowed. In
1995, the Supreme Court agreed with a special master's finding
against Colorado. Since then, the two states have been arguing about
how much money Kansas should receive in damages, in addition to more
Kansas officials had hoped to collect $62 million for damages and
interest through 1994. The Supreme Court's ruling says Kansas can
collect monetary damages -- with inflation, about $21 million -- and
interest since 1985, when it filed the lawsuit. Kansas had hoped to
collect interest from 1969.
The special master said Colorado should have known by that year
that it was violating the terms of the river compact. Kansas sought
$41 million in interest. Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar said
the Supreme Court ruling should drop that figure by $20 million, to
But Tritsch said the special master still must calculate
Colorado's bill and put a figure on damages owed to Kansas since
1994. She noted that the master is supposed to take up the issue of
Colorado's future compliance with the compact.
Asked about the timing of payments from Colorado, Tritsch said,
``We really don't know.''
Kansas also sued Nebraska in 1998, over what it believes is that
state's depletion of the Republican River in violation of a 1943
compact. A special master appointed by the Supreme Court expects to
have a trial in 2003.
Under a 1996 state law, proceeds from the lawsuit with Colorado
are supposed to pay for the costs in other water litigation. After
that, a third of the money would go to the state's water conservation
programs and two-thirds to farmers and other western Kansas residents
for water conservation projects.
Return to the
U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.