September 6, 2011--State looking at South Platte outbound flows (Pueblo Chieftain)

The state is looking at a contention by farm groups in northeastern Colorado that more water has been sent down the South Platte River to Nebraska than necessary as a result of court-ordered well restrictions in 2006. State Engineer Dick Wolfe countered that the report misinterprets how much water is “owed” to Nebraska, but concedes there is room for better accounting of flows. Some of the problems identified in the report are in the realm of water courts, he added. Following a 2005 court ruling, the state engineer curtailed pumping on 4,000 of 9,000 irrigation wells in the South Platte River basin in 2006. Some were shut down completely. A study by Halepaska and Associates for the Weld County Farm Bureau and Colorado Corn Growers found that deliveries of water to Nebraska have significantly increased since 2006. As much as 600,000 acre-feet of water more than necessary under the South Platte River Compact flowed out of the state in 2010 because of artificial recharge ordered by the state, the consultants said. The study found elevated groundwater levels and recommended better procedures for measuring the relationship between surface and underground water supplies.

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