Nebraska governor signs bill to build Colorado canal

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“My concern is that with development along the range front and limited access to future water for people on the range front, we’re going to start to see the South Platte River potentially dry up on the Nebraska border in very near future,” Miller said, acknowledging he’s held that view for a quarter of a century. “And my observation is that as a year we get lower amounts of water. Have I studied that? No, but I’m also very aware of all the people moving to the front and people taking water. water. “

The Perkins County Canal Project dates back to the drought of the 1890s when desperate western Nebraska farm families began digging a canal from the South Platte River in Colorado with plans to irrigate their parched crops. The canal was to run about 65 miles, but the project was abandoned in 1895 after about 16 miles had been dug, according to a historical article about the project in the North Platte Telegraph. In 1923, however, Nebraska rulers made sure to insert a clause into their water pact with Colorado to keep the option of a canal open.

The Colorado Water Plan is constantly updated to assess changing water conditions. The plan notes those that 80% of the state’s water falls west of the mountains while 90% of the state’s population lives east of the divide, or primarily on the waterfront. Rockies.

In the past, Colorado has often diverted water from the mountains to serve frontline cities, but this process has become more complex, especially given the Colorado River water demands in other states across the country. West. As frontline communities face greater opposition to Colorado River diversions, Nebraskanians are seeing water-thirsty communities eyeing the South Platte River.

In response to the Nebraska Canal project, Colorado lawmakers introduced a bill that would prioritize storage projects in the South Platte River Basin. This bill, however, was postponed indefinitely in committee.

Nebraska officials said Monday it would likely take nearly a decade before the Perkins County Canal could be built.

Chris Clayton can be reached at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

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