Ricketts says Colorado is not delivering enough water on the South Platte

Sept. 21, 2022, 4 p.m. ·

Governor Pete Ricketts speaks in front of a picture of the dry South Platte River (Photo by Fred Knapp, Nebraska Public Media News)
Gov. Pete Ricketts speaks in front of a picture of the dry South Platte River (Photo by Fred Knapp, Nebraska Public Media News)

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Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said Colorado is not delivering all the water it is supposed to from the South Platte River. Ricketts made his remarks in a presentation at the public library in Ogallala on Tuesday.

“Colorado is supposed to be right now delivering 120 cubic feet a second through that South Platte River right now," he said, pointing to a picture. "Today… and you can see, there’s nothing."

The governor referred to a two-week old photo showing no flow on the South Platte near Roscoe, Nebraska. There was also no flow Tuesday.

Roscoe sits about 30 miles from the Colorado state line. At the Western Irrigation District diversion dam, much closer to state border, District President Dennis Schilz said they’re only getting about 30 cubic feet per second.

Colorado has steadfastly maintained it is fulfilling its obligations under a 100-year old compact between the two states.

For the last year, Ricketts has promoted building a canal that would bring water from Colorado to Nebraska. This current issue – more than the 120 cubic feet per second the compact requires in the irrigation season between April 1 and October 15 – is separate from the 500 cubic feet per second Colorado would have to deliver to Nebraska in the non-irrigation season if Nebraska builds a canal to capture that flow.