Ricketts, State Officials, Legislators Announce A String Of Major Water Projects

LINCOLN, NE (January 10, 2022) – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and State leaders introduced proposals to strengthen Nebraska’s water resources.

Governor Ricketts announced that Nebraska intends to take action to protect its entitlements of South Platte River water by constructing a major canal in parts of Colorado and southwest Nebraska.  The project, authorized under the South Platte River Compact, will support multiple uses including irrigation, power production, and municipal water supplies.  The Governor highlighted the emerging need to protect Nebraska’s South Platte River water supplies, which are being threatened by planned developments in Colorado.  Funding for the project will be included in the Governor’s proposed budget that he will share with the Legislature later this week.

Attorney General (AG) Doug Peterson joined the Governor to discuss the important rights Nebraska enjoys under the South Platte River Compact.  Signed in 1923, the Compact divides the waters of the South Platte River, ensuring certain flows will be delivered to Nebraska at the state line near Julesburg, Colorado.  Construction of the canal and storage system (colloquially known as the “Perkins County Canal” at the time the Compact was signed) along the Nebraska-Colorado border will preserve Nebraska’s sovereign right to its share of the South Platte River water into the future.

Additionally, Speaker of the Legislature Mike Hilgers proposed a number of water projects developed over the past six months by the Legislature’s Statewide Tourism and Recreational Water Access and Resource Sustainability (STAR WARS) Special Committee.  The committee is unanimously recommending them for approval by the Unicameral.  Their proposal includes plans to enhance Nebraska’s existing water assets and create new water resources for Nebraskans to enjoy.

Among other projects, the STAR WARS Committee proposal calls for:

  • Construction of a new marina and related amenities at Lake McConaughy, along with additional road improvements to alleviate congestion and improve public safety
  • Replacement of a boat access facility along the Niobrara River in Knox County to provide access to the world-class hunting and fishing in the area
  • Construction of an event center and lodge at Niobrara State Park
  • A major marina expansion at Lewis and Clark Lake
  • Flood control measures along the lower Platte River near Schuyler and in the Wahoo Creek watershed
  • Creation of a 4,000-acre reservoir between Lincoln and Omaha

The proposals presented today are contingent on legislative approval and will be discussed by Senators during the Unicameral’s current session.

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