Today, the Governors and Attorneys General of Nebraska and Colorado announced their settlement of claims regarding Colorado’s past use of water under the Republican River Compact. A new agreement between the states was signed by Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado and Governor Pete Ricketts of Nebraska in recent weeks. The agreement builds upon the states’ recent collaborative water management efforts and approval of detailed interstate Compact accounting procedures of water in the Republican River basin. While the States are currently in compliance with the terms of the Compact, this settlement resolves potential claims related to alleged past violations. The two-page settlement:
- Avoids any future litigation on these matters, by forever barring Nebraska from bringing claims against Colorado for violation of the Compact and the prior 2002 Final Settlement Stipulation for the accounting period ending on or prior to December 31, 2013; and,
- Subject to appropriation, provides a negotiated level of payment to the State of Nebraska; and,
- Establishes no precedent for water valuation in any of the States, including this river basin; and
- Requires payment by December 31, 2018.
Governor Hickenlooper commented that “the settlement provides funds that could be used in the Republican River Basin within Nebraska and creates additional opportunities for cooperative water management between the states.”
Attorney General Cynthia Coffman of Colorado said the agreement “avoids the costs and uncertainty of litigation and furthers the principles of the Compact, including removing controversy, fostering interstate cooperation, and ensuring the most efficient use of water in the Republican River basin.”
Governor Ricketts agreed that “Nebraska and Colorado can now continue to focus on providing their water users with greater certainty and to pursue other collaborative opportunities to benefit their shared economies.”
Attorney General Doug Peterson of Nebraska also expressed his approval, stating that “this settlement is in the best interest of the State, and builds on our previous collaborative efforts.”
The agreement resolves the existing controversies between the two states regarding Colorado’s past use of water under the Republican River Compact and allows them to continue to work cooperatively.