Central Platte Natural Resources District v. Wyoming

513 N.W.2d 847 (1994)

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Central Platte Natural Resources District v. Wyoming

Nebraska Supreme Court
513 N.W.2d 847 (1994)

  • Written by Rose VanHofwegen, JD

Facts

The Central Platte Natural Resources District (CPNRD) (plaintiff) applied to appropriate water rights to instream flows in the Platte River in Nebraska to preserve bird habitat. Wyoming (defendant) also owned land on the river that it wanted to use for bird habitat and opposed the applications, claiming CPNRD sought more water than available. CPNRD’s expert testified about historic flow levels for the previous 30 years. Wyoming’s experts countered that the historic flows should be reduced by all existing appropriated water rights using the full-rights method and that future groundwater depletions would reduce river flows. The Nebraska Department of Water Resources (NDWR) director accepted the historic-flow method and found no pending senior applications would deplete existing flows, even though two other senior applications were pending. One was later denied, and CPNRD had filed the other and a manager testified it would waive its senior rights to satisfy the instream flows. The director partially granted CPNRD’s applications and Wyoming appealed, arguing the director applied the wrong method and gave CPNRD more rights than water available. After the appellate court affirmed, the Nebraska Supreme Court granted review.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (White, J.)

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