Nebraska announces $500M plan to claim South Platte River water

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The South Platte River, just seven miles south of Julesburg, was expected to flood by 9 p.m. on Sept. 17, 2013.

South Platte River

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts announced a $500 million plan to divert water out of Colorado under a 99-year-old compact between the states that allows Nebraska to seize access to Colorado land along the South Platte River and build canals.

Ricketts says Nebraska would invoke its rights under the South Platte River Compact amid concerns that Colorado’s plans for the river could reduce water flows into his state by as much as 90%, taking a potentially huge toll on Nebraska’s agricultural and power industries and likely affecting water supplies in the state’s two largest cities, Omaha and Lincoln.

The compact was approved in 1923. Nebraska’s move is likely to trigger litigation between the states.

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