NCORPE Operations Cease, April 2015

NCORPE Operations Cease, April 2015

Friday, March 27, 2015

Dickens, Neb. – The NCORPE augmentation project in Lincoln County has ceased Republican River Compact compliance operations for 2015, having prevented an irrigation shutdown on approximately 300,000 acres in the Republican Basin in 2014 and 2015.

“An irrigation shutdown of that scale would have been a severe and unnecessary blow to the regional economy,” said NCORPE Manager Kyle Shepherd. “We’re pleased the project helped the basin avoid that outcome.”

 In 2014, Nebraska faced a projected shortfall of more than 42,000 acre feet to maintain compliance with the Republican River Compact. The NCORPE project was finished and operational in February 2014, and the Rock Creek augmentation project in Dundy County, operated by the Upper Republican NRD, also enhanced stream flow in 2014. Combined, the two projects and other actions by the NRDs in the Republican basin generated the more than 42,000 acre feet necessary to prevent a massive irrigation shutdown in 2014 and maintain compact compliance. By providing that volume of water quicker than an irrigation shutdown would have, surface water was administered for compact compliance for a shorter amount of time.

 This year, there was a projected shortfall of 18,800 acre feet. Within about three months, the NCORPE project generated that amount of water, again preventing an irrigation shutdown. It will not be known until November how much, if any, water will have to be generated by the project in 2016. Moving forward, a compact compliance accounting change approved by the U.S. Supreme Court will significantly decrease the amount of water that has to be pumped from NCORPE. The change ensures that in compact compliance accounting, Nebraska is no longer charged with consuming water that seeps into the Republican basin from the Platte basin. The credit may be approximately 10,000 acre feet annually. Had the credit been in place from 2013-2015, it would have reduced the deficit Nebraska and the NRDs had to make up with NCORPE and other actions by about 70%. 

 NCORPE is an interlocal agency comprised of the Upper Republican, Middle Republican, Lower Republican and Twin Platte NRDs. The project enhances stream flow with water that otherwise would have irrigated 16,000 acres owned by NCORPE in Lincoln County. It is also the largest grassland restoration project in Nebraska.