Court ruling favors power district over irrigators

Jul 12, 2014

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska Supreme Court has upheld a decision favoring a public power district's right to water over those of farmers and ranchers along northern Nebraska's Niobrara River.

The case stems from the Nebraska Public Power District's 2007 decision to exercise its senior water rights to the Niobrara River after years of drought. The district said it needed the water to produce power at Spencer Dam, which it owns. Farmers and ranchers along the river sued when the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources ordered them to shut off their irrigation pumps that year.

In a majority opinion Friday, the state's high court dismissed irrigators' argument that the power district gave up water rights it acquired in the 1940s by not exercising them before 2007.

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