At a defunct AltEn ethanol plant just west of Omaha in eastern Nebraska 150 million gallons of water contaminated with 84,000 tons of pesticide residue have been determined to be too toxic to be spread on area farm ground. In February, 2021 two tanks at the facility burst releasing some 4 million gallons of polluted slurry downstream.
Nebraska's Republican cannaphobic governor is panicking and blaming Colorado.
In a statement Wednesday, Colorado Governor Jared Polis said the state "has not and is not" withholding water from Nebraska. Gov. Polis said the list pointed to by Gov. Ricketts is a group of recommendations from collaborative basin roundtables. Back in 1889, the idea of irrigating the land not only excited local farmers, it attracted financial assistance from both local farmers and eastern financiers. But that stream of money quickly dried up, leading to the abandonment of the canal project. Now, with more funds available, Nebraskans will see if the project can be revived – again. [Why Nebraska is Igniting a Western Water War with Colorado]In 1998, when Kansas sued Nebraska over its groundwater use the Supreme Court of the United States didn't even mention the word "groundwater" and although it never appeared in the initial 1943 Republican River compact the Court ruled its use affects flows.
Nebraska signed the South Platte River Compact with Colorado in 1923.
Nebraska did not start regulating groundwater use until 1996, according to a 2004 Nebraska Law Review analysis, and it was “loose” compared to Kansas and Colorado. Farmers only needed to send a well registration to the state, which had “no authority to deny a registration” the way Colorado and Kansas could deny permits, the analysis found. That kind of power was mostly left to local management districts. [History forces 'hard decisions' in Eastern Colorado's declining Republican River basin]