Perkins County Canal

Introduction and Background: 

The Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (NeDNR), working in conjunction with Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) and a variety water users and water-related interests throughout the Platte River Basin, has been conducting focused water planning efforts since 2004.  These water planning efforts consist of Basin-Wide Plans, Integrated Management Plans (plans developed for an individual NRD), and Drought Plans, along with work in conjunction with Nebraska’s interstate compacts, decrees, and agreements.  Particular attention is often given to the interstate components during water planning efforts to ensure that Nebraska fulfills its obligations and that our state’s water users receive the full benefits of Nebraska’s water entitlements.  One area of focus is to ensure that Nebraska’s full entitlements under the South Platte River Compact (the Compact) are realized and protected for the future of all Nebraskans. 

Seasonal South Platte River flows into Nebraska have been trending downwards in recent years.  There are several attributable factors in Colorado to the reduction in river flows which may include, but are not limited to:  increased irrigation-related well pumping, population growth in the Denver and Front Range region; and changing climate & weather patterns.  As a result, demand for water has increased in Colorado to the point that Nebraska’s streamflow entitlements are in jeopardy.  A scenario that is highlighted by a large number of Colorado water projects, at various stages of development that are intended to capture additional South Platte River flows.          

To further advance Nebraska’s water entitlement protection efforts in the South Platte River Basin, the Legislature passed the Perkins County Canal Project Act in 2022, finding that it is essential to the economic prosperity, health, and welfare of the people of the State of Nebraska, and to the environmental health of the entire Platte River Basin, to protect Nebraska's full entitlement to the flows of the South Platte River as provided for in the Compact.  As a result, the NeDNR is authorized with funding allocations of $628-million to develop, construct, manage, and operate the Perkins County Canal and associated water storage facilities, with the primary purpose of fully protecting Nebraska’s non-irrigation season annual flows (October 15th to April 1st) and to improve utilization of surplus flows that arise during the irrigation season (April 1st to October 15th), as set forth in the Compact. 

The NeDNR is moving forward with the Perkins County Canal Project, which includes associated water storage facilities.  This web page will be a resource for information related to project activities and will be periodically updated.


    Timeline - Timeline of Recent Events Related to the South Platte Compact

    South Platte Fact Sheet #1 - Background on South Platte Compact

    South Platte Fact Sheet #2 - Colorado’s Growing Demands on the South Platte River

    South Platte Fact Sheet #3 - How Inaction Impacts Nebraska

    South Platte Fact Sheet #4 - PERKINS COUNTY CANAL PROJECT - JANUARY  2023 UPDATE

    Historical Stateline Streamflow for South Platte River

    South Platte River Compact


    Engineering Study on South Divide Canal - USBR Evaluation of Project Elements, (1982)

    Draft Economic Benefits Analysis of South Platte River Water Supply Protection - Preliminary Estimate of
              Project Benefits (2021)

    Economic Benefits Analysis of South Platte River Water Supply Protection - Summary (2022)

    LB1012 Presentation - Preliminary Findings to the Appropriations Committee of the Legislature (2022)

    LB1012 Report – Evaluation of the South Platte Compact Canal and Alternatives (2022)

         Colorado Correspondence (Received by Nebraska March 2, 2023)

         Response to March 2, 2023 Colorado Correspondence (sent April 25, 2023)


    Nebraska Perkins County Canal Project Plan (sent to Colorado June 21, 2022)

    Colorado Correspondence (received by Nebraska July 14, 2022)

    Nebraska Request for Water Administration for South Platte Compact, Article VI
             (sent to Colorado December 12, 2022)

    Colorado Correspondence (received by Nebraska December 15, 2022)

    Perkins County Canal Project Overview – (February 2024)

Recent Activities in Colorado:

    State of Colorado Senate Bill 22-126 - Colorado Legislation (2022)

    Pioneering a Collaborative and Sustainable Water Future - Example of Colorado Water Project Aimed at
              Reducing “Excess” Water Leaving Colorado

Informational Videos:

    South Platte River Compact Fundamentals and Connections

    Visual Tour of South Platte Return Flow Conditions

    How Colorado is Currently Using Return Flows

    Perkins County Canal Project Operations and Overview

    Benefits of Surplus Flows to the Perkins County Canal Project

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