Natural Resources

South Platte River canal project authorized

Lawmakers approved a proposal April 12 to build a canal to divert South Platte River water from Colorado to Nebraska under a 1923 interstate compact.

Sen. Mike Hilgers
Sen. Mike Hilgers

LB1015, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Mike Hilgers on behalf of Gov. Pete Ricketts, authorizes the state Department of Natural Resources to develop, construct, manage and operate the canal and its associated reservoirs, called the Perkins County Canal Project, under the terms of the compact.

It also authorizes the department to use eminent domain to acquire land and resolve any legal disputes that arise as a result of the project.

The bill prohibits the department’s director, employees and their immediate family members from having a direct or indirect financial interest in any entity that is party to a contract or from having a financial interest in the ownership or lease of any property relating to the development, construction, management or operation of the project.

The conflict-of-interest provision also applies to members of the Legislature and elected officials in the executive branch of state government. The provision relating to executive branch officials applies while those officials are in office and for two years after they leave office.

Senators voted 42-4 to pass LB1015.

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