Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version



Published in Cornhusker Economics, 07/07/2004. Produced by the Cooperative Extension, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


On December 16, 2002 Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado settled the Republican River Compact lawsuit. The settlement allowed each state to use the same amount of water as was originally established in the 1943 compact. However, the settlement requires Nebraska to treat “tributary” wells, i.e. wells the pumping of which affects the river’s flow, as part of Nebraska’s compact water use. Further, regulation of these tributary wells will be required in dry years to insure that Kansas receives the water to which it is entitled. It is important to note that the settlement does not use the term “tributary wells.” Instead the settlement refers to “alluvial” wells and “table land” wells. Alluvial wells are very close to the river or located generally within the river’s floodplain. Table land wells are essentially wells further away from the stream. I find it convenient to refer to both groups of wells as tributary wells. Computer modeling will ultimately identify tributary wells; but wells located within the areas subject to the ban on new well drilling are likely to be tributary wells.