Governor Signs Water Project Bills Into Law

LINCOLN, NE (April 18, 2022) – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts hosted bill signings for LB 1015 and LB 1023e at the State Capitol.  LB 1015 authorizes construction of a canal and reservoir system to protect South Platte River water flowing into Nebraska from Colorado.  LB 1023e approves water projects put forward by the Legislature’s Statewide Tourism and Recreational Water Access and Resource Sustainability (STAR WARS) Committee.

“Today, we enacted two key laws to strengthen Nebraska’s water resources,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “LB 1015 helps protect the South Platte River water we depend on for drinking water, agricultural irrigation, and to nourish our natural environment.  LB 1023e makes strategic investments to develop our water resources.  This will create recreational opportunities for Nebraska’s families and grow tourism in our state.  Thanks to Senators for protecting and developing our water resources this session.”

The Unicameral passed LB 1015 to protect Nebraska’s South Platte River water flows from aggressive developments in Colorado.  The state of Colorado is planning nearly $10 billion of water projects in the South Platte River Basin to prevent water from leaving the state.   Nebraska has a compact with Colorado that guarantees the state of Nebraska minimum flows of South Platte River water throughout the year.  Nebraska’s entitlement is contingent on building a canal and reservoir system—known as the Perkins County Canal—along the South Platte River.  LB 1015 authorizes the Perkins County Canal to be constructed.

The Legislature’s STAR WARS Committee has worked over the past year to identify opportunities to make the most of Nebraska’s water resources.  Water projects approved in LB 1023e include:

  • Creation of a 3,600-acre reservoir between Lincoln and Omaha
  • Construction of a new marina at Lake McConaughy
  • Construction of an event center and lodge at Niobrara State Park
  • A major marina expansion at Lewis and Clark Lake

A feasibility study of the lake proposed between Lincoln and Omaha is expected to be completed in about 2 years.  The Perkins County Canal Project is expected to take 8-10 years to finish.