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Environmental brief ~ Nebraska to buy water rights from farmers

[JURIST] Leading Thursday's environmental law news, Nebraska's Bostwick Irrigation District [backgrounder] has voted to sell its 2006 water allotment from the Republican River to the State of Nebraska for about $2.5 million. The deal will include 10,100 acre-feet of water currently in the Harlan County reservoir, and 5000 acre-feet of water below the reservoir. The approximately 260 Bostwick landowners, the majority of whom are farmers, will each receive about $106 per acre. Nebraska wanted to purchase the water to avoid potential litigation with Kansas for violating a 1943 water-use agreement [text] with the states of Kansas and Colorado. Under that agreement, Nebraska was to receive 49 percent of the annual water supply in the Republican basin. In recent years, Nebraska has been withdrawing more than that amount. This is the first time Nebraska has purchased water rights from local districts for the purpose of allowing the water to continue to flow downriver. The Omaha World-Herald has local coverage.

In other environmental law news...

  • The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) [official website] reached an agreement [press release] Wednesday with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Justice to reduce the amount of polluted water overflowing from Boston's sewer and stormwater systems [MWRA backgrounder] into the Charles River from 200 million gallons a year to 8 million gallons. Currently, when the combined sewer and stormwater systems overwhelm the sewage treatment centers in times of heavy rain, the additional water flows into the Charles. Under the agreement, most of the overflow would be redirected away from the river and into a sewage treatment plant. In some parts of the city, the sewer and stormwater systems would be separated. The plan is expected to cost some $20 million. The Boston Globe has more.

  • The Dominican Republic is seeking $80 million from the AES Corp. [corporate website] to pay for economic damage, environmental cleanup and monitoring, and health screening of the local population, allegedly resulting from the dumping of coal ash on the country's beaches. AES contends that the ash is harmless and that all required government permits were filed and official procedures were followed. AP has more.

  • The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) [official website] has proposed [press release, DEP backgrounder] limiting the levels of perchlorate in drinking water. Perchlorate [EPA backgrounder] is both naturally occurring and man-made, and might possibly lead to thyroid cancer in humans. The EPA is currently studying whether there should be a national perchlorate standard. If the proposal is approved, Massachusetts would be the first state to establish a perchlorate limit. The Berkshire Eagle has more.

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