U.S. Water News Online
TOPEKA, Kan. -- Kansas' lawsuits against Colorado and
Nebraska over violations in water compacts remain on track,
legislators have been told.
Attorney General Carla Stovall gave an update on progress to gain
money and water from the state's neighbors. She said briefs for the
case against Nebraska over the Republic River were due to the
court-appointed special master by November.
Officials from Kansas and Nebraska have been in discussion over
the lawsuit, though no settlements have been reached. At issue is the
amount of water Kansas claims Nebraska has failed to allow to flow
into the state.
A special master has recently toured the Republican basin, Stovall
said. The two states now are working through the logistics of
exchanging several 100,000 documents.
Stovall said Kansas has claimed one victory in the case when the
special master ruled groundwater pumping in Nebraska is governed by
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Kansas is entitled to $14
million in damages as a result of Colorado's failure to abide by the
Arkansas River Compact. A special master is to decide how much Kansas
will receive in interest since the case was filed in 1985.
``In this case, Colorado is not agreeing to anything,'' Stovall
She said the case is a landmark ruling by the Supreme Court in
that it sets precedent for allowing one state to win damages from
another for water issues.
``We paid a lot of money to be proud of that,'' Stovall said.
Legislators have appropriated $17.3 million for the Colorado
litigation since 1984. Any money received by the state as a result of
the lawsuit will be deposited in the Interstate Water Litigation
Fund, with money then used to help pay the costs of other water
litigation, monitoring compliance with other water compacts.
All amounts above $17.3 million will be used for water projects,
with a third of the money earmarked for the state Water Plan and the
remainder for projects affected by the Arkansas River Compact.
Legislators expressed concern that Colorado would be slow to make
payments. They also wondered if any money above the attorney fees
could be returned to the state general fund for other uses.
David Pope, chief engineer for the attorney general, said the
Kansas situation could set the stage for other litigation regarding
management plans for the Missouri River.
There is no formal compact governing the basin, Pope said, though
any of the 10 states along the route could sue if they feel they are
being shortchanged by other states. The river system drains about
one-sixth of the United States.
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