The Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement Project (NCORPE) is a joint project of four Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) that is designed to help the State of Nebraska and NRDs meet interstate and intrastate water obligations. It protects the economy of a region with approximately 1.4 million irrigated acres without sacrificing natural resources, and is the largest rangeland restoration project in Nebraska.

In December 2012, four NRDs - Upper Republican, Middle Republican, Lower Republican and Twin Platte NRDs- purchased 19,500 acres in Lincoln County that straddle the Platte and Republican River Basins. About 15,800 of those acres had been irrigated with 115 groundwater wells. Ceasing irrigation on those acres allows water that would have continued to be used for irrigation to be stored in the Ogallala Aquifer. Then it can be piped from 30 groundwater wells into the Republican and Platte Rivers when needed to meet river flow obligations.

The total capacity of the project is approximately 65,000 acre feet annually. A significant portion of that water will not be needed on an annual basis and will be “banked” for use in years when needed for compliance with the Republican River Compact. Annual deliveries will be made to the Platte River in later years to help comply with provisions of the Platte River Cooperative Agreement. In 2014 alone, the project helped prevent the shutdown of approximately 327,000 irrigated acres in the Republican River Basin.  

Over the mid and long-term, the amount of water pumped under the project to help keep Nebraska in compliance with the compact and prevent massive irrigation shutdowns may not be any more, and could be less, than what would have been pumped had the property remained an irrigated farm. There is abundant groundwater underlying NCORPE – the saturated thickness of the Ogallala Aquifer in the area is approximately 400-600 feet.