A Maine lawyer charged with making recommendations to the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the Kansas-Nebraska Republican River lawsuit has issued a draft report of his findings that appears largely favorable to Nebraska.
As had been expected, the report from William Kayatta Jr. was disseminated Wednesday. Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said in a news release that he found the contents "encouraging."
Kayatta recommends that Nebraska be found to have violated the 1943 Republican River Compact for the year 2006 based on its failure to pass the established compliance test, and that Nebraska be required to pay Kansas $5 million as a result. Kansas had sought $80 million in damages, however.
Kayatta goes on to recommend that all of Kansas' other demands for relief, including future restrictions on water use, be rejected by the high court, which has original jurisdiction in interstate water disputes.
"While we believe the suggested $5 million is too high, we're pleased Kansas' demand for $80 million in damages was denied," Bruning said. "We also appreciate that Kansas' request for future restrictions on water use was denied and that the Special Master acknowledged Nebraska's accounting concerns. This report is a positive step for our basin irrigators who have worked hard to keep Nebraska in compliance with the Compact on an annual basis since 2007."
Kayatta noted that his draft report is subject to revision in form and substance, Bruning said. Attorneys for both states are invited to comment on the findings at a non-testimonial hearing Jan. 24.