U.S. Water News Online
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nebraska irrigators say enforcement of an
out-of-court settlement endorsed last week in the long-running water
dispute between Nebraska and Wyoming will be the key its success.
Tom Schwarz of Bertrand said he and other irrigators are concerned
about how t he settlement on water use from the North Platte River
Basin will play out.
``If the state can do what they promise us they will do, it will
probably work out fine,'' said Schwarz, who is vice president of
Nebraska Water Users, a group of irrigators concerned about the
settlement agreement reached earlier this year by Nebraska, Wyoming
Schwarz suggested Nebraska hire people to make sure Wyoming abides
by the agreement -- a proposal that could be difficult to meet given
the state's current budget problems.
In March, the states agreed to settle after 15 years in court and
around $20 million in legal costs.
The settlement was endorsed by Owen Olpin, a special master
appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The settlement establishes a North Platte Decree Committee, made
up of water officials from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Wyoming,
Nebraska, and Colorado to make sure water is allocated fairly among
The U.S. Supreme Court still has to consider Olpin's report before
dismissing the case.
The river begins in Colorado, loops through Wyoming, and merges
with the South Platte River in central Nebraska. The rivers form the
Platte River, which flows east to the Missouri River near Omaha, Neb.
The core of the conflict dates to the 1930s. A 1934 lawsuit filed
by Nebraska was resolved in 1945 by the U.S. Supreme Court when it
divided the river's flows at 75 percent for Nebraska and 25 percent
Nebraska filed another lawsuit in 1986 that accused Wyoming of
using more than its share. Several interim agreements have since been
reached on some issues but the heart of the lawsuit was never
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