May 11, 2012
Update on Republican River Litigation
Kansas v. Nebraska & Colorado, Kansas’ lawsuit to enforce the Republican River Compact against Nebraska, is set for trial in August 2012. Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska are parties to a 1942 Compact, which allocates the water in the Republican River basin among the three states. Development of groundwater resources for irrigated agriculture began to strain the basin’s water supply by the late 1970’s. In 1998 Kansas first brought suit against Nebraska for overusing its share of the basin’s water, thus depriving Kansas of its legal allocation. Colorado was also named as a party to the 1998 suit because it is a party to the Compact, but no action was taken against Colorado. In 2003 the parties reached a settlement that, among other things, adopted a groundwater model to quantify the effects of groundwater pumping on streamflow as part of a broader set of comprehensive procedures for determining compliance. Another important part of the settlement is that Kansas agreed not to seek damages for past violations (2002 and before) in exchange for all the states agreeing to be bound by the model and accounting procedures.
Subsequent to the 2003 settlement, Kansas believes that Nebraska violated the compact by overusing its annual allocation over a multi-year period. Kansas filed a petition in 2010 with the United States Supreme Court to enforce the terms of the Compact and the settlement against Nebraska. The Court accepted the case in April 2011 and appointed William Kayatta, Jr., from Portland, Maine, as Special Master to conduct the trial on behalf of the Court.
After the trial is completed in August and all post-trial motions and briefings are concluded, Special Master Kayatta will issue his decision in the form of a report to the Court. The Court will then review the report and will likely entertain exceptions to it, including the possibility of oral argument. Having done so, the Court will then issue its own, final, decision in the matter.
For more information, please visit our Republican River compact website.
Staff News: Dave Jones
David Jones, Environmental Scientist II in the Water Use and Compliance and Enforcement Unit, will be joining the KDA Division of Conservation May 14.
“In my new position with the Division of Conservation as a resource planner, I will be providing training and conducting field reviews while visiting the conservation districts,” Jones said. “The knowledge I have gained about Kansas water rights at DWR will be a huge help when working with local conservation districts.”
Since December 2007, Jones’ DWR responsibilities included drafting penalty orders, coding water use reports, updating water right ownerships, and assisting water right owners on the telephone.
Jones previously worked for the Jackson and Nemaha County Conservation Districts before joining DWR.
“Dave brought a small town perspective to his job. He understands our customers and was able to provide great service,” said DWR Water Appropriation Program Manager, Lane Letourneau.
“Dave was a quick study for the many varied tasks he was asked to learn at DWR,” said Certificates and Water Use Unit Supervisor Rich Eubank. “His even attitude served well in the many compliance and enforcement actions he was involved with, and his grasp of complex ownership problems was highly regarded.”
Drought Update: Encouraging Forecasts and Struggling Streamflows
On May 3, the Climate Prediction Center released a “Final La Nina Advisory,” indicating that La Niña has transitioned to neutral conditions. La Niña is a naturally occurring climate phenomenon resulting from cooler-than-average temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean, which influences weather patterns worldwide. Two consecutive phases of La Niña during 2011 are believed to have contributed to the extreme weather conditions experienced last year, including the severe drought in Kansas and neighboring states, as well as historic flooding along the Missouri River. The report also indicates La Niña conditions are unlikely to re-develop.
Also released on May 3, the latest U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook, indicates the probability of continued improvement in some of the remaining drought stricken areas of Southwest Kansas.
The National Weather Service (NWS) in Dodge City reports that the total precipitation there for the month of April was 3.44 inches, which was 1.62 inches above normal, marking the 3rd month in a row with above normal precipitation and their 20th wettest April on record. Southeast Kansas has also continued to receive ample amounts of moisture with reports of localized flooding in some low lying areas last week. Despite the encouraging news, several streams across the central and western portions of the state continue to exhibit below normal streamflows, notably portions of the Smoky Hill River, the Little Arkansas River and the North Fork Ninnescah River. The Climate Prediction Center’s 6 to 10 day precipitation outlook currently indicates a good chance for above normal precipitation in the near future.
May 15: Western Kansas GMD No. 1 Board Meeting (Scott City)
May 17: Kansas Water Authority Meeting (Hillsboro)
May 24: REAP - Regional Economic Area Partnership Water Conference (Wichita)
June 14: Northwest Kansas GMD 4 Board Meeting (Colby)
June 19: Floodplain Training: Substantial Damage Estimation (Tonganoxie)
June 20: Floodplain Training: Substantial Damage Estimation (Derby)