Republican River Basin Study Informs Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska about Future Water Management

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The Bureau of Reclamation has released the Republican River Basin Study, which identifies adaptation strategies that address water management challenges in the basin. The Republican River basin covers approximately 16 million acres and lies primarily within the Ogallala Aquifer.

Republican River Basin Study Report Cover

Republican River Basin Study Report

Because of its importance, new ground and surface water modeling tools were developed to evaluate future hydrology and operations within the basin.

The Bureau of Reclamation has released the Republican River Basin Study, which identifies adaptation strategies that address water management challenges in the basin. This study, which includes a study area of 2.7 million acres of irrigated agriculture served primarily by groundwater supplies, represents an extensive collaborative effort among Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas.

"The Republican River Basin is a complex and important basin for these states," Reclamation Commissioner Estevan López said. "Because of its importance, new ground and surface water modeling tools were developed to evaluate future hydrology and operations within the basin. These tools will assist water managers as they make decisions to build resiliency against future climate change, while also maintaining compliance with the Republican River Compact."

The Republican River basin covers approximately 16 million acres and lies primarily within the Ogallala Aquifer. It originates in the high plains of eastern Colorado and flows east into Nebraska and Kansas.

The basin study found that climate change may impact future supplies and demands across the basin. Nebraska focused on augmenting the supply of Swanson Lake and creating new surface water storage on Thompson Creek, a tributary of the Republican River, while Kansas evaluated alternatives that increase the storage volume at Lovewell Reservoir. The modeling tools that were developed for the study evaluated alternatives to improve the supply reliability at the Frenchman-Cambridge Irrigation District in Nebraska, as well as the Bostwick-Irrigation District of Nebraska and Kansas.

Surface water supplies include a system of seven Reclamation reservoirs and one U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir. These projects provide flood control benefits, as well as supplies to six irrigation districts that serve approximately 140,000 acres. The Republican River is subject to an interstate compact between Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas that was ratified in 1943.

The Republican River Basin Study is a part of Reclamation’s WaterSMART Program. The report is available online at http://www.usbr.gov/watersmart/bsp.

WaterSMART is the Department of the Interior's sustainable water initiative that uses the best available science to improve water conservation and help water resource managers identify strategies to narrow the gap between supply and demand. For more information on the WaterSMART program, visit http://www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART.

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Peter Soeth
Bureau of Reclamation
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