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Underground Pumping Potential Cause for Nebraska Drought Issue

As Nebraskan farmers continue to sue the state over water usage and laws, evidence shows underground pumping as culprit for extensive drought damage.

As a necessity of life, water courses through the land and nurtures, cleans, and grows. However, as a finite source, water is in the center of many lawsuits. For the second year in a row, Nebraskan farmers sue the state and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for not regulating groundwater pumping properly. The farmers come from four counties that include Furnas, Harlan, Red Willow, and Hitchcock. According to the suit, the state and DNR focused policies primarily on surface water irrigation, ignoring the damage underground pumping was causing.

Domina Law Group’s David Domina, who represents the farmers, agrees that the state needs to address the groundwater pumping. He states,

There is no question that Nebraska has failed to manage water in the basin acceptably. Anyone can see that the management has been to use emergency methods and impose the burden on surface water irrigators, while ignoring the consequences of groundwater pumping.

Nebraskan farmers seek compensation for the potential loss of crops and profits because of the reduced water in the Republican River Basin. The Republican River Compact of 1943 allots water to Nebraska, Colorado, and Kansas. However, Nebraskan farmers claim that because of unregulated groundwater pumping for irrigation, they could not use water that was rightfully theirs. They are asking the state to repay the damages and losses they suffered, though the plaintiffs do not question the state’s authority to restrict water use.

In fact, many Nebraskans believe issues of water use and climate change need to be addressed. 61% of citizens agree that the state should come up with a plan to reduce the impact on climate change, while only 17% disagree. Some claim that the state and authority focus too much on short-term relief, when they should strive to protect water for long-term use. Attorney Domina believes the solution lies in politics and they will need to make solid policies to protect resources.

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