Nebraska will continue to work in good faith on compliance efforts with Kansas on the Republican River, according to Gov. Dave Heineman and Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning.
However, both indicated they would strongly defend Nebraska's interests if Kansas once again decides to sue Nebraska.
Heineman and Bruning responded to a letter sent to Ann Bleed, director of the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources. In the letter, David Barfield, Kansas Republican River Compact commissioner and head of the state's water resource division, makes several demands of Nebraska regarding Nebraska's water use on the Republican River.
Kansas says Nebraska has not lived up to the rules outlined by the 2002 U.S. Supreme Court in a settlement between the two states. Nebraska's efforts to meet the court's orders have been "grossly insufficient and unrealistic."
Barfield wrote that Nebraska must immediately shut down irrigation wells within 2-1/2 miles of the river and its tributaries.
"The State of Nebraska agreed to a process with Kansas that will resolve compact accountability," said Heineman. "We intend to continue in good faith with that effort. The integrated management plans under consideration by the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources and the natural resources districts, plus the tools provided in LB 701 signed into law this year, will allow us to achieve compact compliance going forward. These are important steps that deserve recognition. We will review the letter from Kansas carefully."
"We appreciate Mr. Barfield's letter and recognize that this is another step in the process of resolving this dispute," Bruning said. "We are hopeful that this dispute can be resolved without involving litigation. However, if Kansas decides to pursue litigation, we are prepared to vigorously defend the interests of Nebraska and our citizens. We are confident that the steps in the proposed integrated management plans will get us where we need to be without the need for the drastic actions suggested by Kansas."