Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Kansas-Nebraska water case headed to U.S. Supreme Court

KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- A long-simmering water dispute between Kansas and Nebraska will reach the U. S. Supreme Court next week, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said today.

Schmidt said the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments at 10 a.m. EDT Tuesday, October 14, in Kansas v. Nebraska and Colorado. 

The case addresses remedies to which Kansas is entitled for Nebraska’s overuse of water in the Republican River basin in 2005 and 2006 and also addresses whether the compact accounting procedures should be reformed to account in the future for groundwater originating in the Platte River basin that migrates into the Republican River basin.

“We are seeking strong incentives for our neighbor to the north to consistently comply with its obligations under the interstate compact governing water use in the Republican River basin,” Schmidt said.

Kansas sought permission from the Supreme Court in 2010 to bring the lawsuit and filed its case in 2011. 

After a trial, a Special Master appointed by the Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that Nebraska had overused water in 2005 and 2006 by 70,000 acre-feet and recommended Kansas be awarded $3.7 million in actual damages and another $1.8 million in partial disgorgement of Nebraska’s unjust gains.  The Special Master also recommended future changes in the formula that accounts for groundwater migrating into the Republican River basin from the Platte River basin.

Schmidt will lead the legal team representing Kansas to the Supreme Court, and the state’s argument will be delivered by Solicitor General Stephen R. McAllister.

The case is State of Kansas v. State of Nebraska and State of Colorado, No. 126, Original.