|Writer: LB 1098 a “huge step in the right direction” but Legislature “lacked political courage to finish the job”|
|Written by Wauneta Breeze|
|Thursday, 01 May 2014 00:00|
The lack of water, the disparity of how much water each groundwater irrigator from one Natural Resource District to the next NRD pumps, water quality and potential for water storage and flood control all were addressed in LB 1098 which was passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor.
This bill will distribute $32 million over the next two years and provide $11 million a year following that to address those issues and adds members to the National Resource Commission to oversee the use of those funds.
A major intent of the bill is to reduce the conflicts between irrigators who are surface water users and those who pump water from the underground. In the Republican River Basin those concerns are evident as is the significant difference ground water users can pump from the three NRDs.
Other agendas to be met include complying with multistate compacts and building dams to conserve, store and manage water. Protecting the current economy is a must but so is sustainability.
This bill is a huge step in the right direction and the Legislature should be complimented for it. However, they lacked the political courage to finish the job. They failed to constrain water usage to levels that match nature’s ability to replace it. It is evident that agriculture needs water as does industry, livestock, wildlife, recreation users and just human consumption. This bill still pits long term stewardship against maximizing short term profits.
LB1098 is a good start but it still kicks the can down the road needing a policy that, someday through natural disasters, long term vision, or political courage will ensure water availability in the short term and for future generations.
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