Addressing Nebraska's Economic Issues In Water Policy
Nebraska’s greatest water policy challenges are how to cost-effectively and equitably meet our obligations to Kansas under the terms of the Republican Basin Compact; how to cost-effectively and equitably meet our obligations in the Platte Basin as specified in the current Co-operative Agreement with Colorado, Wyoming, and the U.S. Department of Interior; and how to balance the needs of current and future generations as we pursue the development of inte-grated management plans under the general framework of LB962. Embedded in all three of these challenges is the need either to reduce our current consumptive use of water, or to find cost-effective ways of augmenting water supplies as a substitute for decreasing consumptive use.
Most of the current policies that address these general objectives are focused on reducing irri-gation. Reducing irrigation is a vital part of the long-term policy agenda, because over 90 per-cent of the consumptive use of water in Nebraska is for irrigation. It is, however, not the only available option. Supply augmentation methods such as modified reservoir management, new surface water storage facilities, and reduction in water-consuming riparian vegetation (which by definition, is vegetation found along the banks of rivers and streams) should also be consid-ered.