Colorado Drains Reservoir to Pay 'Water Bill' Owed to Kansas, Nebraska

The state of Colorado owes Kansas and Nebraska four billion gallons of water and it's time to pay up.

The hefty water bill is the result of a 1942 agreement between the three states to share water and a 2003 United States Supreme Court ruling that the Rocky Mountain State had been hoarding more than its fair share of this precious liquid.

After years of trying to figure out exactly how this debt is to be paid, Colorado decided its only option is to drain Bonny Reservoir and send the water down the Republican River to Kansas and Nebraska.

"We see this as the best of the worst of a series of bad options," says Alex Davis, Assistant Director of Water for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.

The Department says the debt had gone unnoticed for decades, until Kansas officials realized they were short on the water allotted their state from the Republican River. For business owners who cater to tourists headed to Bonny for fishing and recreation, the draining of the reservoir will end their livelihood.

"Well what are the folks going to do around here," says Kenny Condrey, who owns Pappa's Bait and Tackle along the dirt road leading to Bonny. Condrey will eventually close his shop.

"There's nothing else to do. And that's the point.".

This past weekend, the state closed the park. Officials says it will take two to three months for all the water to make its way east to the states where the high court says it belongs.

Locals fear that as the water leaves eastern Colorado, so will the local economy. The drained reservoir will eventually become a state wildlife refuge.