Nebraska agency chief urges financial support for South Platte project | Regional government

Nebraska could ‘lose up to 90%’ of the South Platte River’s water before it flows into the state from Colorado if it doesn’t act quickly to exercise its rights to secure its part of the water, said the Legislative Appropriations Committee. Tuesday.

Tom Riley, director of the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, spoke in favor of a comprehensive pandemic recovery bill (LB1014) that would begin funneling $500 million in federal pandemic funding into building a system of canals and reservoirs to secure Nebraska’s share. some water .

Colorado is “spending 20 times what we’re asking” on water projects and could “seem to potentially ramp up construction now” in reaction to Gov. Pete Ricketts’ proposal to build a Perkins County canal with reservoirs, said Riley.

“Colorado is looking for water that Nebraska has the right to use,” he said.

Under the terms of the 1923 pact, Nebraska can build, maintain, and operate canals within the Colorado border that divert water from the South Platte River for Nebraska’s use.

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Ricketts announced his intention to exercise Nebraska’s rights to share water between states when he unveiled his 2022 budget recommendations to the Legislature.

The committee heard testimony about LB1014, a bill introduced by President Mike Hilgers of Lincoln on behalf of the governor that would allocate $1 billion in federal pandemic funding that would flow to the state in two segments.

The first $520 million has already been received and the second $520 million is expected to be delivered no later than May.

A long line of speakers appeared before the committee to propose how pandemic recovery funds should be distributed in a hearing that stretched into the night.

Among a slew of shovel-ready community projects seeking a share of federal funds was the Lincoln Youth Complex, which requested $10 million in assistance for its proposed 30-year-old youth baseball and softball complex. million planned near Haymarket Park.

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Contact the writer at 402-473-7248 or [email protected]

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