Legislation that would impose a tax upon the use of water to irrigate agricultural and horticulture land has been proposed in the Nebraska Unicameral.
Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus introduced Legislative Bill 1022, known as the Irrigation Tax Act. The tax would equal one cent for every 10 gallons of water pumped from wells with a capacity of at least 5000 gallons per day.
Schumacher said in an interview with the Rural Radio Network that he was surprised water isn’t sold as part of the land.
“When you buy a piece of irrigated land, you are not buying the water,” Schumacher said. “For all practical purposes, all land is dry land. The fact that the states does not charge for that resource, like other states charge for their resources…is in fact a subsidy to local governments, a subsidy to agriculture, a subsidy to local school districts for which people really don’t give the state credit.”
The proposed legislation made some people question who owns ground water.
“The simple answer is no body does,” said Anthony Schutz, association professor of law at the Nebraska College of Law. “If anybody owns it, we say the public owns it…but there is no sort of individual ownership right of the water that is beneath ones property.”
The interview with Anthony Schutz can be heard here.