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Nebraska Embarks on Building a $500 Million ‘Canal to Nowhere’



A bridge crosses the South Platte River near Brule, Nebraska. (Shutterstock)
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The controversies that have long marked the West’s water wars are moving east to America’s heartland.

This year, Nebraska lawmakers signed off on building a $500 million canal that would siphon South Platte River water from fast-growing Colorado next door.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis calls the effort a “canal to nowhere.” Meanwhile, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts insists the canal will “protect Nebraska’s water rights for our kids, grandkids, and generations beyond.”

The states share water rights on the South Platte, which joins the North Platte River in western Nebraska to form the Platte. The Platte then flows across Nebraska into the Missouri River.

A Canal Without a Purpose

Reports “The strange thing about the political firestorm, according to water experts, is that the canal wouldn’t really do anything. The water Nebraska wants to protect doesn’t face an immediate threat from Colorado, and, in any case, it’s not clear the canal would provide Nebraska any additional water beyond what it already receives. The total amount of water that could flow through the planned $500-million-dollar canal is unlikely to change the course of either state’s future.”

Funding comes from a Nebraska state budget fattened by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.



Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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