Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Water War Brewing in Western Nebraska

by Kyle Michaelis
Okay, so the title's a bit sensational, but there does seem to be something amiss with irrigation interests having almost 4/5's of the votes controlling Nebraska's water policies. Tuesday, the Sidney city council unanimously passed a resolution asking Governor Heineman to reconstitute the 49-member State Water Policy Task Force by appointing more representatives from the 80% of Nebraska citizens living in cities.

With all due respect to this state's ag producers, there has to be a greater balance of voices when concerning our most precious natural resource. Yes, Nebraska irrigators use about 97 percent of the state's groundwater, but rights to that water are shared by all. Heineman should heed Sidney's call and take action to address this problem before a truly devestating divide erupts in the drought-afflicted West.
Sidney City Manager Gary Person said he hopes the council's action starts a statewide, grassroots effort by communities to call attention to "the huge inequities" in state laws and potential conflicts of interest among task force members.

I don't have much in the way of knowledge about this situation or water policy in general, but I appreciate the city of Sydney's call to action. Conflicts of interest, as broad as the term is, aren't very popular around these parts. I have a hard time believing Nebraska wouldn't benefit from a few different voices being heard when deciding its water policies.


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