"About two months” was the answer given to a question I recently asked of Nate Jenkins, assistant manager of the Upper Republican Natural Resources District. My question to Nate was, “How much time elapsed from when it was learned the Lincoln County land was for sale until the three Republican Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) organized, raised the necessary funding, and purchased the property for the Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement (N-CORPE) project?” That is about two months to decide on a course of action and raise nearly $88 million to purchase approximately 15,800 acres of irrigated farmland. Including the pumps, pipelines, and other necessary infrastructure for the N-CORPE project, the total cost will be $120 million. Since 2007, the Republican NRDs have had the authority to implement an “occupational tax” of up to $10.00 per acre on irrigated land. The funding for the N-CORPE project comes directly from the irrigating farmers in the Upper, Middle, and Lower Republican NRDs. The N-CORPE project will ensure compliance with the Nebraska–Kansas interstate compact and protect all the irrigating farmers from potential forced shutdowns. Most importantly, the 15,800-acre N-CORPE project will help maintain the value of the nearly 1 million irrigated acres within the three Republican NRDs and preserve the local economies that are dependent on agriculture. Additionally, the N-CORPE project has created more time and flexibility to allow for future irrigation and water management improvements. The locally elected Republican NRD board members and their respective manager employees have demonstrated their ability to think creatively and move quickly to develop solutions.
Kris Polly is editor-in-chief of Irrigation Leader magazine and president of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at Kris.Polly@waterstrategies.com.