Consultant says canal from Colorado worthwhile; some senators skeptical

Dec. 2, 2022, midnight ·

A page from consulting firm Zanjero's presentation on South Platte canal
A page from consulting firm Zanjero's presentation on South Platte canal

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A new consultant’s report says a proposed canal to bring water from the South Platte River in Colorado to Nebraska would be worth the estimated $600 million cost. But some state senators remain skeptical.

During a briefing the appropriations committee, Gwyn-Mohr Tully of the consuIting firm Zanjero listed its conclusions.

“Number one: Colorado plans to take Nebraska’s water without this canal. Number two: water in the South Platte is available for Nebraska’s current and future use. By constructing the project, number three, Nebraska will secure its water supply. And number four: the benefits of constructing the project outweigh the costs,” Tully said.

But some senators were skeptical. Sen. Mark Kolterman asked about a possibly extended and costly legal battle with Colorado.

“Would you go out and build a $600 million canal with first exploring the possibilities of the legal actions that Colorado would bring? Have you been involved in those type of dialogues? Because to me, you don’t enter into something like this until you’ve exhausted all the other possibilities,” Kolterman said.

Gov.-elect Jim Pillen announced Friday he’ll retain Director of Natural Resources Tom Riley, calling his leadership “vital in bringing this water home to Nebraska.”