Kansas and Colorado end Arkansas River case
U.S. Water News Online
TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas and Colorado announced they've ended a long-running lawsuit over the Arkansas River.
The two states filed an agreement with the U.S. Supreme Court to resolve the final technical issues about monitoring Colorado's use of water from the river. The agreement is designed to prevent the river's depletion as it flows into southwest Kansas.
Disputes over the river date back more than a century, and Kansas sued Colorado in 1985, claiming Colorado was improperly diverting millions of gallons of water. The Supreme Court ruled a decade later that groundwater pumping took water rightfully belonging to Kansas, and Colorado paid its neighbor more than $34 million in damages.
The lawsuit continued because of other issues, including the monitoring of water use, and in March, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decree spelling out how future disputes would be resolved. The agreement filed recently was the last step toward closing the case.
“We're pleased to put this long-standing water dispute behind us,” Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said. “We're looking forward to working with Kansas to prevent future water disputes.”
Kansas Attorney General Steve Six said the agreement should avoid litigation and save both states money. David Barfield, Kansas’ chief water official, said the two states are working better together than in the past but acknowledged continued monitoring of Colorado's water use — and development in that state — make future conflict possible.