U.S. Water News Online
OMAHA, Neb. — The U.S. Supreme Court appointed a special master to investigate a claim by Montana that Wyoming is violating a 1950 water compact. Wyoming, the argument goes, is keeping more water than it is entitled to.
Montana blames increased groundwater pumping by Wyoming farmers and businesses for the shortfall. It argues that water pumped from groundwater aquifers for irrigation or use in coal-bed methane drilling is covered by the compact. Wyoming is trying to argue that it's not covered.
Think Kansas. Nebraska. The Republican River. This latest to-do looks like a rerun of the drama about the amount of water due Kansas from Nebraska in the Republican.
Montana and Wyoming state leaders could save themselves a lot of bother and expense by taking a good, long look at what has happened in Nebraska on the Republican. That issue still isn't settled but it's sure a lot closer than the newly launched Montana-Wyoming case.
As water in the West becomes an ever-scarcer and increasingly precious resource, more such arguments will crop up. Perhaps Nebraska's long (15 years) and expensive ($44 million) struggle can teach other states something before the years and the millions begin to add up.