Frenchman-Cambridge Suit Challenging NRD/State Management Plans Dismissed

Frenchman-Cambridge Suit Challenging NRD/State Management Plans Dismissed

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

October 6, 2017


Frenchman-Cambridge Suit Challenging NRD/State Management Plans Dismissed


A lawsuit filed by Frenchman Cambridge Irrigation District (FCID) challenging water-management plans approved by the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Natural Resources Districts in the Republican Basin was dismissed Friday by the Nebraska Supreme Court.

The surface-water irrigation district based in Cambridge had argued that Integrated Management Plans (IMPs) approved by DNR and the NRDs would deprive it of water that would otherwise be available for its operations, among other things. But the state high court ruled that FCID lacked standing to challenge the IMPs because the irrigation district has not been harmed by them.

“IMPs are simply jointly developed plans for how water will be managed,” says the opinion from the Nebraska Supreme Court. “Although the IMPs set forth the water controls that may be employed in times of water shortage, the IMPs themselves do not actually implement the controls. Instead, for those controls to be implemented, the NRDs must determine that such controls are necessary and issue subsequent orders,” pursuant to state law.

The high court’s dismissal of the case on appeal follows a decision a year ago by Furnas County District Judge James E. Doyle, IV, to dismiss FCID’s suit because the irrigation district failed to state a cause of action. The case ruled upon Friday is the second time this year that FCID or its water users and their attorney, David Domina of Omaha, have lost before the state Supreme Court. In March, the high court upheld Doyle’s dismissal of another case in which FCID water users argued that their property rights were superior to the Republican River Compact, and that earlier state administration of surface water to comply with the Compact deprived them of all economic benefits.

The NRDs and DNR have successfully maintained Compact compliance using management actions outlined in the IMPs. A 2015 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Nebraska’s Compact compliance plans as expressed in IMPs and turned down Kansas’s request to shut down irrigation on almost half the irrigated acres in the Republican Basin in Nebraska.