THE AUTHOR is the Platte River Program manager for Audubon Nebraska.
For decades, community members in the Platte River basin — farmers, environmentalists, power companies, municipalities and natural resource agencies — have worked on collaborative ways to share water. This work asks partners to look at our collective water problems from different, often conflicting perspectives, and agree to bold solutions that require sacrifices from everyone.
Allowing the Platte-Republican transbasin diversion project to occur — to send Platte River water to the Republican River — would jeopardize much of this difficult but necessary work.
The diversion point for this project would be just east of where the North and South Platte Rivers meet. Downstream from this point, Platte River streamflow refills community water supplies and the canals and aquifers that irrigators depend on.
What streamflow remains in the river’s channel is essential to the habitat and wildlife of the Platte River ecosystem. Each year, 1 million sandhill cranes and thousands of people flock to Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary to watch the greatest migration event in the Western Hemisphere. Reducing available water in the Platte River would further degrade habitat and imperil this important economic engine for central Nebraska.
The stewards of the Platte River, those working to ensure that water is shared to benefit both people and wildlife, know that uncertainty in our water supply is likely to increase. Transferring water out of the Platte River will decrease what certainty remains now and what options we will have to choose from in the future.
To protect Nebraska’s healthy communities, its agricultural economy, and the vibrant ecosystems that promote well-being and deepen our cultural identity, we must ensure that the basis for all of these values — streamflow in the Platte River — is protected.
For more information on Audubon’s fight to protect the Platte River, please visit ne.audubon.org/diversion.