NE State Supreme Court Dismisses Objectors to Platte-Republican Diversion Project

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NE State Supreme Court Dismisses Objectors to Platte-Republican Diversion Project

News Release by Lower Republican and Tri-Basin Natural Resources Districts (NRDs)

The Nebraska Supreme Court handed down its decision in In Re Application A-19594 (Central Platte NRD et al., and North Platte NRD v. NE Department of Natural Resources and Platte to Republican Basin High Flow Diversion Project) on Friday, October 6, 2023. This case was an appeal by objectors to the Platte-Republican Diversion Project’s water right application.  The Court determined that none of the objecting parties sufficiently showed they would be harmed by the proposed project, so they have no legal standing to object to the application.

                “I’m so pleased that the Justices agreed that our project has no potential to harm existing water right holders” in the Platte Basin, said John Thorburn, manager of Tri-Basin Natural Resources District (NRD), headquartered in Holdrege, Nebraska.  “Our project has always been intended to only divert water that no water user in the Platte Basin can use.  We simply want to beneficially use water that would otherwise flow out of Nebraska.”

                Tri-Basin and Lower Republican NRDs jointly launched the Platte-Republican High Flow Diversion Project (PRD) in 2017.  The purpose of the project is to divert water from the Platte River during times of high flow, then run that water through Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District’s canal system to a point three miles west of Smithfield, Nebraska, where water will run in a pipeline from E-65 Canal to Turkey Creek, a tributary of the Republican River. 

The NRDs filed for a water right for the project in 2018.  In that application, the NRDs specifically requested that they be limited to diverting excess flows from the Platte only at times when all in-basin demands have been met for the water.  Nevertheless, several Platte Basin water users opposed the water right application, which has been on hold pending resolution of the objecting parties’ complaints.

                The Nebraska Supreme Court’s decision confirms that the objecting water users will not be harmed by the project, and the NRDs intend to proceed with their water right application.  “We look forward to presenting our water right application to the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources for approval” said Todd Siel, manager of Lower Republican NRD in Alma.  “This project will enable us to take water from the Platte that would otherwise be wasted and divert it into the Republican River Basin to help Nebraska stay in compliance with our compact with Kansas and Colorado” Siel said.

The two NRDs are hopeful that the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources will approve the water right application soon, so they can proceed with design work and provide further details of the project to landowners along Turkey Creek in Gosper and Furnas counties in south-central Nebraska.

                For more information about the Platte-Republican Diversion Project, please contact John Thorburn at Tri-Basin NRD (308) 995-6688, or Todd Siel at Lower Republican NRD (308) 928-2182.


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