Sign-up begins October 1st for new irrigated acres

Landowners within the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) boundaries, will have an opportunity to apply for new irrigated acres in some portions of the District, beginning Oct. 1st.

The LENRD board voted, at their August meeting, to allow up to 450 acre-feet of new depletions, in accordance with their Voluntary Integrated Management Plan for irrigation development in the Hydrologically Connected or 10/50 Area, and to allow up to 2,500 acres of new groundwater irrigation development in the Non-Hydrologically Connected or Non 10/50 Area under the district’s standard variance process.  An approved variance is a requirement for any expansion of irrigated acres in the LENRD, whether from an existing or new irrigation well.

Geographic portions of the district that are eligible to be considered for standard variances are areas that fall within the top three categories of the classification map.  A map of the eligible locations will be available at the LENRD office in Norfolk by no later than Friday, August 30th.

Excluded from consideration for this sign-up period will be any parcel of land located in any Quantity Management Subarea or Phase 3 Area located within the LENRD.

LENRD Assistant Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “The board also approved the scoring sheets used by staff when processing applications and reauthorized use of the Conditions for Approval policy, which has accompanied approved variances each of the last two years.  In addition, a minimum soil score of 90 must be met for any standard variance to be considered for approval.”

Application forms will be available online and in the office beginning October 1st. 

The board established a sign-up period to receive applications for Standard Variances between October 1st, 2019 and October 31st, 2019. 

Application -coming soon

Map - coming soon

 

Bazile Groundwater Management Area seeks Project Coordinator

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) is accepting applications for the full-time position of Bazile Groundwater Management Area (BGMA) Project Coordinator.

The Project Coordinator will work independently to educate and encourage the adoption of best management practices in an attempt to improve groundwater quality and quantity within the Bazile Groundwater Management Area of Pierce, Knox and Antelope Counties. The Coordinator will be headquartered at the LENRD office in Norfolk.

For more information about the position, please e-mail msousek@lenrd.org. To apply for this position, send a letter of application and current resume by September 10, 2019 to: Mike Sousek; General Manager, Lower Elkhorn NRD, 1508 Square Turn Blvd., Norfolk NE 68701.

Job Description 

 

A reminder to irrigators in the Pierce & Madison County Phase 2 & 3 Areas

ATTENTION IRRIGATORS IN THE PIERCE & MADISON COUNTY PHASE 2 & 3 AREAS: Please remember to collect an irrigation water sample this summer. All wells in the Phase 2 Area must be sampled once every four years, and all wells in the Phase 3 Area must be sampled annually.

A groundwater management area was established in 1997 to protect our valuable groundwater resources. Testing your irrigation water for nitrate-nitrogen is a requirement in the Phase 2 & 3 Areas.

The Lower Elkhorn NRD provides FREE sampling kits, along with the cost of shipping and laboratory analysis. Sample bottles can be picked up at the LENRD office at 1508 Square Turn Boulevard in Norfolk. Please take advantage of these free testing programs! Call with any questions or concerns - 402-371-7313.

Please remember, you are responsible for ensuring that each of your wells get sampled this summer.

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10-County Scrap Tire Collection is August 16th in Arlington

Free 10 county scrap tire collection! The Papio Missouri River NRD, Nebraska Loess Hills RC&D Council and the Lower Elkhorn NRD will have a free scrap tire collection on Friday, August 16th from 8:00 a.m. to 12 Noon at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Arlington, NE. The fairgrounds are located on the north side of Hwy 30 between Blair and Fremont.

Residents and businesses, which do not charge tire disposal fees, from Burt, Colfax, Cuming, Dakota, Dodge, Douglas, Sarpy, Stanton, Thurston and Washington counties can bring tires to this event. Loads must enter through the east (main) fairground entrance on Hwy 30. Each load is limited to 100 tires. Loads with less than 20 tires may have a shorter wait time during the last 90 minutes of the collection. All sizes of car, truck, semi and tractor tires will be accepted.  No rims will be accepted so ALL tires must be off rim.  Tires cannot be accepted from any business which charges a tire disposal fee.  Do not leave vehicles unattended in line. Limited unloading help will be available, so plan to unload your own. Be sure to arrive before the gates are locked at noon.

Champlin Tire Recycling will process the tires collected during the event.  This processing includes repair and retread of salvageable casings, reclamation of tires meeting used tire specifications and the production of park benches, picnic tables and feed bunks. Funding for this free collection is provided through a grant from the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy. For more information please contact Deborah Ward at the Papio Missouri River NRD (402) 374-1920 ext. 3.

Event Flyer

LENRD Board discusses groundwater management strategies

Groundwater quality and quantity are top priorities of the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD).  The LENRD board & staff meet each month to develop and implement management plans for the future of our natural resources.

At their July meeting, the board adopted the proposed changes to the LENRD’s Groundwater Management Area Rules and Regulations, and those changes will become effective on August 24, 2019.

LENRD Assistant Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “The changes will further outline the rules and regulations by adding some definitions for terms that relate to current groundwater management strategies to complement the recent adoption of the Lower Platte River Basin Plan and the LENRD’s Integrated Management Plan.”

The board also approved a Streambank Stabilization Project Policy.  Area flooding has caused several streambanks to erode in places where they haven’t in the past.  Due to the extensive river system across the district, the board made the decision to focus resources on public infrastructure.  The policy states that the district will need to partner with one or more public entities on streambank stabilization projects in the future.

The LENRD Board is also waiting to hear if funding has been secured through a grant with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for flood protection for the city of Battle Creek.

The 2 reservoirs that have been proposed for the area, south of Battle Creek, are a 160-acre pool for approximately $17 million and a 1,200-acre pool for $36 million.  Battle Creek’s City Council met in May and voted to explore options for a 1,200-acre flood-control reservoir on the south side of Battle Creek.

LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, said, “There are multiple benefits to think about when considering a project of this size.  First and foremost is flood reduction.  Along with that are the recharge benefits as well as recreation.”

The next LENRD board meeting will be Thursday, August 22nd at 7:30 p.m. at the LENRD office at 1508 Square Turn Boulevard in Norfolk.  Stay connected with the LENRD by subscribing to their monthly emails.

Science & Ag Family Field Day held at the Haskall Ag Lab near Concord

The LENRD participated in the Science & Ag Family Field Day held at the Haskell Agricultural Laboratory on Wednesday, July 24th. Families filled the tents, presentation areas, and exhibit hall. It was a fun-filled day of learning about agriculture, science, our natural resources, and so much more! The LENRD had a booth of information on the Bazile Groundwater Management Area as well as a large Groundwater Model display. Participants enjoyed learning about our precious groundwater and how to protect it!

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National Water Quality Initiative provides funds for impaired Bazile Creek Watershed

Agricultural producers located in priority watershed have until July 19 to apply for funds.

Over 80 percent of Nebraskans get their drinking water from groundwater sources. In some parts of the state, that groundwater is threatened with contamination.

To help protect groundwater, special initiative funding is available through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) National Water Quality Initiative for producers in the Bazile Creek watershed. Funding through this initiative will offer financial assistance to producers to install conservation practices that will improve water quality. Interested applicants need to apply for this funding by July 19, 2019.

The area eligible to apply for funding through the National Water Quality Initiative lies within four Natural Resources Districts – the Upper Elkhorn, Lower Elkhorn, Lewis and Clark, and Lower Niobrara NRDs. This eligibility area is also within a critical water quality area known as the Bazile groundwater management area (see map).

Dennis Schueth, general manager of the Upper Elkhorn NRD said, “This gives producers another financial incentive to try some form of conservation practice they have never tried before.  Hopefully, this would be an educational tool for those producers that helps their financial bottom line while enhancing the environment as it relates to water quality and quantity.”

Listed as an impaired water body, the Bazile Creek watershed has seen an increase in sediment and an overabundance of nutrients in both surface and groundwater. Nitrate levels in the groundwater have risen above the Environmental Protection Agency’s safe drinking level standard.  Nitrate levels above this standard pose a human health risk and have created a challenge for communities in the Bazile groundwater management area to provide safe drinking water to residents. The National Water Quality Initiative will work with producers in the area to implement conservation practices to reduce groundwater contamination and control runoff. 

Jim Mathine, district conservationist at the NRCS field office in Spencer encourages landowners within the watershed to contact their local NRCS office to take advantage of this opportunity.

Mathine said, “This Initiative will allow producers to receive funding and technical assistance to apply conservation practices that enhance water quality while lowering input costs and increasing land productivity. Working with producers to increase water quality in the Bazile Creek watershed will benefit every resident in the area through safer drinking water, more productive cropland, and improved wildlife habitat.”

According to Mathine, numerous conservation practices like cover crops, filter strips, nutrient management, no-till and other erosion control practices that improve water quality qualify for funding. These conservation practices not only protect water quality, they can also improve soil health and cropland productivity.

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Producers are urged to contact their local NRCS office for technical assistance. Sign-up for National Water Quality Initiative funding ends July 19, 2019. For more information, visit www.ne.nrcs.usda.gov.

Request for Qualification for the Battle Creek Flood Risk Reduction Project

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) is seeking qualifications from qualified engineers to apply for the FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding through the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). If awarded either FEMA grant funds, or other funds, the selected firm would perform professional services to develop preliminary plan, permit, design and construction of the Flood Risk Reduction Structure in the Battle Creek Watershed.

Project Objective
The purpose of the Battle Creek Flood Risk Reduction project is to reduce flooding in the Battle Creek Watershed which includes the City of Battle Creek. The proposed flood risk reduction project is needed to reduce property damages resulting from frequent overtopping and flooding of Battle Creek thus causing damages in the City of Battle Creek and agriculture property.

Submittal Requirements & Scope of Work

Deadline:

One hard copy and an electronic copy of your qualifications/proposals must be provided to: Lower Elkhorn NRD, 1508 Square Turn Boulevard - Norfolk, NE 68701   by the end of business day on July 19th, 2019.

Questions regarding the RFQ can be addressed to LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, (phone: 402-371-7313; e-mail: msousek@lenrd.org ).

Nebraska's NRDs celebrate 47 years of protecting natural resources

July 2019 marks 47 years of protecting lives, property and the future of natural resources for Nebraska’s 23 Natural Resources Districts (NRDs).  NRDs are unique because they are governed by locally elected boards and Nebraska is the only state to have this system.

Senator Maurice Kremer introduced and the Nebraska Legislature enacted Legislative Bill (LB) 1357 in 1969 to combine Nebraska’s 154 special purpose entities into 24 Natural Resources Districts by July 1972.  The original 24 NRDs’ boundaries were organized based on Nebraska’s major river basins which allows for better management practices to be applied to similar topography.  In 1989, the Middle Missouri NRD and the Papio NRD were merged into one, becoming the Papio-Missouri River NRD which resulted in the current 23-NRD system.

“Nebraska’s 23 NRDs have been addressing natural resources issues and concerns with local solutions for 47 years,” said Mike Sousek, General Manager of the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) in Norfolk.

Nebraska's NRDs are involved in a wide variety of projects and programs to conserve and protect the state's natural resources.  Sousek added, “NRDs are charged under state law with 12 areas of responsibility including flood control, soil erosion, and groundwater management.  While all NRDs share the 12 main responsibilities, each district sets its own priorities and develops programs to best serve local needs and to protect Nebraska’s natural resources for future generations.”

 NRDs are local government entities with broad responsibilities to protect our natural resources.  Major Nebraska river basins form the boundaries of the 23 NRDs, enabling districts to respond best to local conservation and resource management needs. To learn more about Nebraska’s NRDs visit www.nrdnet.org or your local NRD website at www.lenrd.org

Plans in motion to protect West Point and Battle Creek from flooding

As the area continues to recover from the March flood events, the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) Board of Directors is looking into possible solutions for communities for the future.  One of the LENRD’s 12 responsibilities includes flood prevention and control as well as prevention of damages from flood water and sediment.

The City of West Point has an interlocal agreement with the LENRD to move forward with a preliminary study and design of a flood control levee.

LENRD Projects Manager, Curt Becker, said, “We’ve been working with the City of West Point in the development of this flood-control project for the last few years.  We are to the next step.  The levee will allow for optimal flood reduction in times of torrential rainfall.”

The LENRD Board voted to approve 50% of the costs of the West Point Levee Improvement Project design and permitting up to $494,760.00.  The district’s share would be $247,380.00.  This is part of the $1.7 million project that was approved by the LENRD in July of 2017.

The City of Battle Creek approached the LENRD board this spring, asking if the potential flood-control projects that were deemed feasible in 2014 could be revisited.  The 2 reservoirs that have been proposed for the area, south of Battle Creek, are a 160-acre pool for approximately $17 million and a 1,200-acre pool for $36 million.  Battle Creek’s City Council met on May 13th and voted to explore options for a 1,200-acre flood-control reservoir on the south side of Battle Creek.

The LENRD Board voted to move ahead with the process of securing funding for a flood-control project at their May meeting, and to file a letter of intent with FEMA/NEMA for flood protection for Battle Creek.  The board also voted to direct staff to contract with consulting firms to prepare all the necessary documentation and complete a grant application to the USDA Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations program.

LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, said, “There are multiple benefits to think about when considering a project of this size.  First and foremost is flood reduction.  Along with that comes the benefits of recharge and retiming as well as recreation.”  Sousek continued, “This is just the first of many steps in this process.”

The Village of Snyder is seeking a location for a new Public Water Supply Well.  The LENRD has a program that provides $5,000 in financial assistance for the construction and development of a test-well that is used to determine the pumping capacity of a proposed well, along with an evaluation of water quality.  The information from the test well is then utilized in the design and location of the production well.  As a condition of granting the financial assistance, the Village of Snyder will grant the LENRD access to the test-well for future groundwater monitoring purposes.  The board voted to direct staff to make payment to the Village of Snyder upon receipt of the documentation of the completion of the test-well.

In other action, the board directed staff to send non-compliance notification letters containing a July 22, 2019 deadline, to farm operators in the Phase 2 and Phase 3 Management Areas who have not submitted annual reports the district.  Notices to irrigators who have not submitted end-of-season flow meter readings from the 2018 pumping season for active irrigation wells will also be sent.

The board also held a Public Hearing to receive testimony on proposed changes to the LENRD’s Groundwater Management Area Rules and Regulations.

LENRD Assistant General Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “The proposed changes include amendments to Rule 1, which would add language outlining additional penalties when enforcing the plan’s rules and regulations, inclusion of some definitions for terms that relate to current groundwater management strategies, and other changes to integrate management components that are included in the recently adopted Integrated Management Plan.”

A complete summary of the proposed changes is available at the LENRD office in Norfolk and on the district’s website.  The board will review the testimony and approve the changes at their July meeting.

The next LENRD board meeting will be Thursday, July 25th at 7:30 p.m. at the LENRD office at 1508 Square Turn Boulevard in Norfolk.  Stay connected with the LENRD by subscribing to their monthly emails. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Hazard Mitigation Plan to be updated this year

For every $1 spent on hazard mitigation, $4 in post storm cleanup and rebuilding is saved, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Proactive hazard mitigation planning allows a community to take actions to reduce or eliminate threats from natural disasters. To help guide future hazard mitigation projects, the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) is updating their current Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Hazard mitigation plans (HMP) are a requirement of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, administered by FEMA, and once a community, county, or district is part of an approved plan they become eligible for up to a 75% cost share for a wide variety of projects listed in the plan. Hazard Mitigation Plans are required to be updated on a five-year cycle and the LENRD’s HMP is required to be updated in 2019.

A hazard mitigation plan is a publicly-guided document that identifies vulnerability to natural disasters such as flood, drought, earthquake, wildfire, winter storm, tornado/high wind storm, dam failure, etc. The plan sets goals, establishes mitigation alternatives, and prioritizes projects which may alleviate potential damages to property and provide protection when future disasters occur.

The planning effort to update the plans across the 15-county district are being guided by a Planning Team consisting of representatives from the LENRD, Counties, the Cities, several schools, Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (NDNR), and the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). Public input will be gathered throughout the duration of the plan development through online tools and public meetings. All communities, Counties, Sanitary Improvement Districts, Tribal Nations, and School Districts within the LENRD are eligible to participate.

The LENRD hired JEO Consulting Group, Inc. (JEO) to assist with the plan development this year.  JEO assisted in completing the LENRD’s original and current Hazard Mitigation Plan, in 2009 and 2014.  This hazard mitigation plan update is funded by a FEMA planning grant.  The cost is shared 75% through federal funding and 25% through a local match.  For this plan update, the LENRD provided the 25% local match.

For more information on the Hazard Mitigation Plan, contact LENRD Projects Manager, Curt Becker.

Nebraska's unique NRD system is key to addressing groundwater quality

Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) are a rare example of a groundwater government whose practices are conducive to positive, sustainable groundwater quality outcomes, according to a new study published in the most recent edition of Water Alternatives, an interdisciplinary journal on water, politics and development.

Nebraska’s Natural Resource District System: Collaborative Approaches to Adaptive Groundwater Quality Governance,” presents Nebraska as a case study for the development of governance regimes that have the potential to address agricultural nonpoint source groundwater nitrate pollution.

The study, led by Gregory Sixt while at Tufts University (now at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab), stemmed from earlier research by Bleed and Babbitt (2015), which demonstrated that the NRDs represent a robust system for the sustainable management of groundwater quantity. This research expands upon that analysis to examine the NRD system as it has evolved to include groundwater quality in the last 30 years. Other researchers contributing to this study include: Laurens Klerkx, Wageningen University (The Netherlands); J. David Aiken, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; and Timothy Griffin, Tufts University.

“I hope this paper will increase awareness of the NRD system and highlight to more people Nebraska's unique and special model for managing its groundwater resources,” Sixt said. “I believe strongly that the NRD system has a lot to teach other states.”

Research included 34 interviews throughout June 2017 with a diverse set of experts from various NRDs; the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts; Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Natural Resources; University of Nebraska-Lincoln; agricultural producers; City of Hastings Utilities; Nebraska Extension and the Groundwater Foundation.

The research also focused on three groundwater nitrate management programs in Nebraska that collectively represent the broader NRD system.

  1. The Central Platte NRD Groundwater Management Area (CPNRD GMA), which is the oldest nonpoint source nitrate program in the state, and has demonstrated a successful trend in reducing groundwater nitrate concentrations;

  2. The Bazile Groundwater Management Area (BGMA), which brings together four NRDs to address nitrate pollution; and

  3. The Hastings Wellhead Protection Area (Hastings WHPA), which is a collaboration between two NRDs and the city of Hastings. This project successfully bridges the rural-urban divide to address the nonpoint source nitrate pollution that is threatening the city’s drinking water source.

The study concluded that cooperative approaches are important to nonpoint source pollution program development and management, stating that Nebraska is in a unique position to showcase how local water management plans can be successful. The NRD system has been in place since 1972, and districts have been developing groundwater quality plans since the 1980s, allowing Nebraska to provide a model for other states beginning to develop their own groundwater governance regimes.

“We’ve been successful working with agricultural producers to reduce nitrate levels to protect water while still maintaining farm profitability,” said Lyndon Vogt, Central Platte NRD general manager and research participant. “We’re proud to set an example of how public and private partnerships work together to protect Nebraska’s vital resources from overuse and pollution.”

To read the full study, visit: Water Alternatives: Volume 12, Issue 2

The Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD), the trade association for Nebraska's 23 Natural Resources Districts (NRD), works with individual districts to protect lives, property and the future of Nebraska’s natural resources. NRDs are unique to Nebraska, and act as local government entities with broad responsibilities to protect Nebraska’s natural resources. Major Nebraska river basins form the boundaries of the 23 NRDs, enabling districts to respond to local conservation and resource management needs. Learn more about Nebraska’s NRDs at www.nrdnet.org.

The Cowboy Trail near Norfolk is part of this year's Great Park Pursuit

Get ready for a new outdoor adventure: the 2019 Great Park Pursuit challenge has begun!

In this fun adventure, teams can visit up to 20 sites between May 1 and September 16, 2019, exploring Nebraska parks across the state and potentially winning prizes for it. Players follow clues to a post hidden somewhere on the park property, and submit proof they were there to earn entries into prize drawings. This year’s prizes include an iPad, Nebraskaland Magazine subscriptions and calendars, state park cabin stays, backyard game packages, and a grand prize with a retail value of $1,500.

The goal of the Great Park Pursuit, a partnership between the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the Nebraska Recreation and Park Association (NeRPA), is to promote active lifestyles while increasing awareness of the state’s nature-rich outdoor recreation opportunities.

"Youth today spend an average of six to nine hours a day in front of a screen. The beauty of the Great Park Pursuit program is that it utilizes park systems across the state that provide the opportunity to explore, enjoy nature and inspire participants to increase their time outside," said NeRPA Recreation Manager Tracy Stratman. “It’s a completely free program that encourages a healthy lifestyle.”

With the addition of the Great Park Pursuit app, it’s fast and easy to mark your visits at a park site. Your experience may not be 100 percent screen free, but it only takes a moment or two to log in your visit, leaving you more time to enjoy the park experience.

The official park sites for 2019 include well-known parks such as Branched Oak State Recreation Area and Schramm Park State Recreation Area, as well as some hidden gems. Check out Nebraska’s longest rails-to-trails project and snap photos of the 1967 Union Pacific Railroad caboose at Caboose Park in Hershey. Enjoy some archery, mature shade trees and playground equipment with a vintage design at Milford South Park, and go fishing and kayaking at Valentine Mill Pond. 

The Great Park Pursuit is sponsored by the Nebraska Chiropractic Physicians Association, the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources Department, and many others.

Participation in the program is free; only a park entry permit is required to enter state park areas. Learn more and sign up at negpp.org.

Public Hearing is June 27th on proposed changes to the Groundwater Management Area Rules & Regulations

The LENRD board has scheduled a Public Hearing on Thursday, June 27th at 7:30 p.m. to receive public testimony on proposed changes to the LENRD’s Groundwater Management Area Rules and Regulations.

LENRD Assistant General Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “The proposed changes include amendments to Rule 1, which would add language outlining additional penalties when enforcing the plan’s rules and regulations, inclusion of some definitions for terms that relate to current groundwater management strategies, and other changes to integrate management components that are included in the recently adopted Integrated Management Plan.”

A complete summary of the proposed changes are available at the LENRD office in Norfolk as well as the link below.

The hearing will be at the LENRD office at 1508 Square Turn Boulevard in Norfolk.  Stay connected with the LENRD by subscribing to their monthly emails.

Public Hearing Notice

Groundwater Management Area - Proposed Changes

Lower Elkhorn NRD board discusses future flood-control projects

As the area continues to recover from the recent flood events, communities are looking for assistance in studying possible solutions for the future.

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) Board of Directors discussed possible options for these communities at their May board meeting.  One of the LENRD’s 12 responsibilities includes flood prevention and control as well as prevention of damages from flood water and sediment.

The City of Battle Creek has had a history of flood-related problems.  City officials recently approached the LENRD board, asking if the potential flood-control projects that were deemed feasible in 2014 could be revisited.  The LENRD board of directors instructed staff to work with the City of Battle Creek in developing a proposal for the board to consider, identifying the project the city would like to pursue as well as updated construction costs for the potential project.

Battle Creek’s City Council met on May 13th and voted to explore options for a 1,200-acre flood-control reservoir on the south side of Battle Creek.

Over 100 citizens of the Battle Creek area attended the May 23rd LENRD Board of Directors meeting.  After a lengthy discussion the board voted to move ahead with the process of securing funding for a flood-control project.  The board voted 11 to 2 to file a letter of intent with FEMA/NEMA for flood protection for Battle Creek.  The board also voted 12 to 1 to direct staff to contract with consulting firms to prepare all the necessary documentation and complete a grant application to the State of Nebraska Water Sustainability Fund in the amount of $36 million as well as a grant application to the USDA Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations program.

LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, said, “There are multiple benefits to think about when considering a project of this size.  First and foremost is the flood-control potential.  Along with that comes the benefits of recharge and retiming as well as recreation.”  Sousek continued, “The vote tonight has started the ball rolling to secure funding for a project.  This is just the first of many steps in this process.”

The 2 reservoirs that have been proposed for the area, south of Battle Creek, are a 160-acre pool for approximately $17 million and a 1,200-acre pool for $36 million.

The Village of Pender is requesting assistance to complete a drainage study of the area.  The LENRD board directed staff to develop an interlocal agreement to provide 50% of the cost of the study not to exceed $19,400 of district funds.

Some concerned citizens of Norfolk also requested assistance with a study.  The board instructed the LENRD staff to work with the City of Norfolk to address the request for a drainage study on the east side of Norfolk.

Sousek added, “Other towns or communities who need flood-control assistance should contact the LENRD as soon as possible so funding can be applied for before the deadlines.”

In other action, the board made a motion to schedule a Public Hearing to be held on Thursday, June 27th at 7:30 p.m. to receive public testimony on proposed changes to the LENRD’s Groundwater Management Area Rules and Regulations.

LENRD Assistant General Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “The proposed changes include amendments to Rule 1, which would add language outlining additional penalties when enforcing the plan’s rules and regulations, inclusion of some definitions for terms that relate to current groundwater management strategies, and other changes to integrate management components that are included in the recently adopted Integrated Management Plan.”

A complete summary of the proposed changes will be available at the LENRD office in Norfolk and on the district’s website.

The next LENRD board meeting will be Thursday, June 27th at 7:30 p.m. at the LENRD office at 1508 Square Turn Boulevard in Norfolk.  Stay connected with the LENRD by subscribing to their monthly emails.

The Maple Creek Recreation Area opened to the public 8 years ago today

The Maple Creek Recreation Area, just northwest of Leigh, NE, is the place to be this summer! The area opened to the public on May 21, 2011. 

The project is owned and operated by the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD).  The dam was constructed by Pruss Excavation of Dodge and is approximately 50 feet tall and located immediately west of Leigh – impounding the West Fork of Maple Creek, north of the Colfax County fairgrounds.  The project provides flood protection for the fairgrounds below the dam, including property owners on the south side of Leigh, and downstream bridges and landowners along the West Fork of Maple Creek.

The multi-purpose project provides flood control as well as recreation.  The area provides fishing, swimming, picnicking, hunting, natural areas, and trails.  The 160-acre reservoir is split by Highway 91 with the main pool lying between the highway and the Colfax County fairgrounds.  Highway 91 was raised approximately 12 feet above the lake which created a sediment retention/wetland area to provide good water quality and to extend the life of the lake.

Other recreation components of the project include:  a 50-pad RV campground, tent camping, playground, shower house, swimming beach, no-wake boating, and a hiking/biking trail with a bridge that extends across the lake.  Recreation Area Superintendent, Leonard Boryca, said, “The hiking/biking trail also offers a box culvert which allows walkers/bikers to cross under Highway 91, providing safe access to both parts of the 557-acre recreation area.”

Fishing is also popular at the lake.  Boryca continued, “The lake is stocked by the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission with largemouth bass, bluegill, and crappie.  Stream improvements were also part of the project, providing fish habitat in the stream above the reservoir and other in-lake fish habitat improvements as well as upland and wetland wildlife habitat.”

Boryca added, “Habitat tree plantings were started before the area opened, and new plantings are added each year to increase shade.  It’s a new area, but it’s blossoming into a beautiful place for people who love the outdoors.”

The Maple Creek Recreation Area was part of the original Maple Creek Watershed project.  In 2000, the Village Board of Leigh requested that the LENRD reconsider this structure.  Feasibility studies by Olsson Associates were favorable and funding was obtained from the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources through the Nebraska Resources Development Fund, from the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission through the Motorboat Access Fund, from the Nebraska Department of Roads for Highway 91, and from the LENRD.

Chemigation permits are due June 1st

Farmers planning to chemigate during the 2019 growing season must renew chemigation permits by June 1 to meet state deadline requirements, according to Josh Schnitzler, Water Resources Coordinator for the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD).

Chemigation is the application of any chemical, fertilizer or pesticide through an irrigation system. To legally chemigate in Nebraska, an operator must be certified to apply chemicals and obtain a chemigation permit from their local NRD.

"Farmers holding chemigation permits, even if they are uncertain whether they will chemigate later this year, should consider renewing their permits by June 1," Schnitzler said.  Schnitzler is encouraging area producers to reapply by the state-required deadline to avoid the increased cost and possible delays of an inspection.

An irrigation system that has not been renewed prior to the June 1 deadline cannot apply chemicals through the system until a new permit is obtained.  Chemigation renewal permits cost $20.  New chemigation permits cost $50, and the applicant cannot use the system until it passes a mandatory inspection.  All permits must be submitted to the LENRD office at 1508 Square Turn Boulevard in Norfolk. 

By renewing a permit by June 1, a producer may proceed with chemigation. An inspection does not have to be performed prior to chemigation for a renewal application, Schnitzler said.  However, a random chemigation inspection may be necessary later in the season as part of the LENRD's routine summer inspections as required by state law.

Applicants must have the signature of a certified applicator on their application form.  Schnitzler stated, “In order to be certified, a person must complete a chemigation safety course and pass an exam once every four years.”

If chemigating is necessary, on short notice, emergency permits can be obtained at a cost of $250.  Irrigation systems meeting chemigation law standards will then be allowed to operate within 72 hours.

Approximately 2,016 chemigation permits were approved by the LENRD in 2018.  For more information on renewing or obtaining chemigation permits, call the Lower Elkhorn NRD at 371-7313.

Position available at the Logan East Rural Water System

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District is accepting applications for the full-time position of Rural Water System Assistant of the Logan East Rural Water System.  The Logan East RWS office is located in Oakland, Nebraska and serves approximately 1200 customers in Burt, Washington and Dodge Counties.

The position involves skilled mechanical and technical work in the installation and repair of water services and meters.  Must possess applicable Nebraska Water Operator Certificates or the ability to obtain such certification within six months of employment.  The Assistant is required to live in Oakland or the immediate area.

To apply for this position, send a letter of application and current resume by June 7, 2019 to: Mike Sousek, General Manager, Lower Elkhorn NRD, 1508 Square Turn Blvd., Norfolk NE 68701.

Job Requirements

Bazile Groundwater Management Area receives grant from NET

The Bazile Groundwater Management Area (BGMA) will receive $228,500 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for the “Development of Research and Demonstration Sites in the BGMA for Groundwater Nitrate Reduction” project. The Trust Board announced funding for the project at its meeting on April 4, 2019 in Lincoln. This is the first year of award with a potential for 2nd and 3rd year funding totaling $209,500 and $209,500 respectively. The project is one of the 117 projects receiving $19,501,444 in grant awards from the Nebraska Environmental Trust this year. Of these, 85 were new applications and 32 are carry-over projects.

Located in northeastern Nebraska, the BGMA was formed collaboratively between the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (NRD), Upper Elkhorn NRD, Lower Niobrara NRD, Lewis and Clark NRD, and Department of Environmental Quality to address high nitrate levels in the area. Since its formation in 2013, the BGMA has been dedicated to increasing education of agricultural producers and increasing the implementation of best management practices. To further this effort, the BGMA has partnered with the University of Nebraska – Lincoln Extension and the Nebraska Water Center, part of the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska to design the proposed project. This project will develop three advanced nitrogen and water management research and demonstration sites, conduct annual field days and educational meetings, and provide an analysis of the success of various water and nitrogen application methods utilized. Through innovative education and demonstration, this project will encourage widespread adoption of improved practices, positively impacting ground and surface water quality and soil management. This project is a vital step forward in stabilizing, and eventually reducing, nitrate levels within the BGMA as experts in natural resource management, with the help of NET, target this serious issue.

The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Environmental Trust in 1992. Using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, the Trust has provided over $305 million in grants to over 2,200 projects across the state. Anyone – citizens, organizations, communities, farmers and businesses – can apply for funding to protect habitat, improve water quality and establish recycling programs in Nebraska. The Nebraska Environmental Trust works to preserve, protect and restore our natural resources for future generations.

Bazile Groundwater Management Area