Ricketts signs bill that starts work on $500 million canal from Colorado

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Gov. Pete Ricketts held a signing ceremony on Monday for LB 1015, the Perkins County canal project.

The law allows Nebraska to build a canal off of the South Platte River from Colorado into Nebraska.

With this new law, Nebraska can start acquiring the land needed to build the canal.

Some of that land will be in Colorado.

According to a nearly century-old compact between the states, Nebraska has legal claim to water from the South Platte River in the non-irrigation season.

But in order to stake that claim, Nebraska must first build this canal.

“We can only enforce our rights if we have this canal, so we will build this canal,” Ricketts said at the signing. “And that is what we have to do to protect our water rights. And whatever objections that Colorado may throw up, the compact is pretty clear that we have the right to do this.”

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has said his state will “protect and aggressively assert its water rights.”

Ricketts said the canal will be built regardless of Colorado’s opposition.

He also said Colorado is obligated by the compact to help Nebraska build the canal.

The project was granted $50 million from this bill but will cost around $500 million and is expected to take between eight to 10 years.

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