LENRD budget reflects flood reduction projects and lower property valuations

The fiscal year 2020 budget for the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) calls for a slight increase in the property tax levy.

LENRD General Manger, Mike Sousek, said, “Last year the tax levy was the lowest it had been in 45 years.  The slight increase is the result of flood reduction projects stemming from the March floods as well as the lower property valuations across the district.”

After months of discussions, the operating budget was approved by the LENRD board of directors at their September 12th meeting with a tax request of $4,332,004, an increase of $59,276 from last year or a 1.4% increase.  The overall operating expenditures show a 38% increase of $2,923,383 from last year.

Sousek, said, “For the past 7 years there has been a decrease in property tax asking, reaching a historic low in 2018.  It’s becoming more and more difficult to continue decreasing the tax levy year after year.  With the 1.4% increase this year, we are expanding our public awareness of our 12 responsibilities and have more projects and programs on the table to meet the challenges of natural resources management.”

The estimated levy, based on the property tax request, is 2.370 cents per $100 of valuation, which is a slight increase from the fiscal year 2019 levy of 2.314 cents per $100 of valuation.  For example, if a person owns a $300,000 house, the taxes owed to the LENRD would have been $69.42 in 2019 and will be approximately $71.10 in 2020.

Sousek, added, “We continue to maximize the use of our local funds, by bringing in grant money to subsidize our projects.  The funds received by the LENRD are returned to the citizens of the district, through projects, programs, and studies across all or parts of 15-counties in northeast Nebraska.”

Some of the major expenditures for FY 2020 include:  Levee and Flood Protection Projects - $1,858,150; Water Resources Programs - $622,000; Project Construction (including flood related repairs) - $983,000; and Conservation Cost-Share programs, including the Bazile Groundwater Management Area Project and Willow Creek Best Management Practices - $696,500.

Other area conservation benefits include:  water quality and quantity programs such as groundwater management, flood control, and nitrate management; as well as erosion control, cost-share to landowners who apply for conservation practices, recreation areas and trails, urban recreation and community forestry programs, and many other benefits that protect our natural resources.

Nebraska coalition hails repeal of 2015 Waters of the U.S. Rule

Nebraska Farm Bureau press release:

LINCOLN, NEB. – A wide ranging Nebraska-based coalition made up of farmers, homebuilders, businesses, bankers, general contractors, golf course managers, electric systems, and local government agencies is praising the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer repeal of the 2015 “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) Rule. The agencies’ action is a key step forward to bringing an end to a four-year battle in which the groups worked to stop a regulation representing one of the largest expansions of federal authority over private land in U.S. history.

“This is a landmark victory for private property owners and those who support private property rights. This is also a major win for states, including Nebraska, who had argued the WOTUS Rule had gone too far in attempting to infringe upon states’ rights to manage waters under their jurisdiction,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

The 2015 WOTUS Rule would have redefined the definition of “waters of the U.S.” under the federal Clean Water Act, and in the process, expanded the scope of waters subject to federal regulation, as well as expand powers to regulate land and land features that collect and convey waters.

“Today’s announcement is a result of Nebraskans working together. There is no doubt the repeal of this rule would not have happened if not for the work of our coalition, its partners, our

national counterparts, and the efforts of our elected leaders,” said Bryan Slone, President of Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“We thank the administration and greatly appreciate the work of Governor Ricketts, Nebraska Attorney General Peterson, Congressmen Fortenberry, Bacon, and Smith, as well as the efforts of Senator Fischer and Senator Sasse in preventing Nebraskans from feeling the impacts of this misguided regulatory effort,” said Dean Edson, Executive Director of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts.

In light of the massive pushback, President Trump signed an executive order in 2017 to start the process for repealing the 2015 Rule. As a part of the rollback, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a replacement regulation for the 2015 WOTUS rule in December of 2018. The new rule is currently under development following a public input period that ended earlier this year. Separately, several legal challenges, including one with involvement by the state of Nebraska, had been filed against the 2015 Rule.

“We continue to provide support and input to the agencies as they develop a more common- sense approach to provide protections for U.S. waters that won’t infringe on individual rights or those of local and state authorities,” said Larry Dix, Nebraska Association of County Officials executive director. “We’re committed to being part of a positive solution. The repeal of the 2015 WOTUS rule is a critical piece of the puzzle as we work with the agencies on a better path forward.”

Common Sense Nebraska is a Nebraska-based coalition consisting of organizations and entities that have come together in response to EPA’s “Waters of the U.S.” proposal which would harm both rural and urban Nebraskans through expansion of EPA’s powers and authorities under the federal Clean Water Act. The coalition’s purpose is to build awareness and understanding of the EPA proposal and the impacts it would have on Nebraskans.

Common Sense Nebraska Coalition members include:

Association of General Contractors - NE Chapter

Farm Credit Services of America

Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association

National Federation of Independent Businesses/Nebraska

Nebraska Agribusiness Association

Nebraska Association of County Officials

Nebraska Association of Resource Districts

Nebraska Bankers Association

Nebraska Cattlemen

Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Nebraska Club Management Association

Nebraska Cooperative Council

Nebraska Corn Board

Nebraska Corn Growers Association

Nebraska Farm Bureau

Nebraska Golf Course Superintendents Association

Nebraska Grain and Feed Association

Nebraska Grain Sorghum Association

Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board

Nebraska Pork Producers Association

Nebraska Poultry Industries

Nebraska Rural Electric Association

Nebraska Soybean Association

Nebraska State Dairy Association

Nebraska State Home Builders Association

Nebraska State Irrigation Association

Nebraska Water Resources Association

Nebraska Wheat Board

Nebraska Wheat Growers Association

Nemaha Natural Resources District

Pawnee County Rural Water District #1

Public hearing to certify irrigated acres is September 26th

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) will conduct public hearings and certify irrigated acres on September 26, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. These hearings will be held at the LENRD office located at 1508 Square Turn Boulevard in Norfolk.  The attached list of individuals are those who have fields in the Certification Hearing.  If questions arise, please contact Mike Murphy at 402-371-7313.

Fields to be Certified

Public Hearing Policy

Contested Hearing Form

Cover Crop seeding demonstration is September 20th near Creighton

Are you looking for another alternative when planting cover crops?  Does the harvest season time-crunch limit your ability to fully capitalize on the long-term benefits of using cover crops?  If you answered yes to either of those questions, you’ll want to attend the field demonstration on Friday, September 20th near Creighton.

The Bazile Groundwater Management Area (BGMA) project team, along with the Nebraska Department of Environment & Energy, have teamed up to demonstrate an additional seeding option for producers using a high-clearance applicator.

BGMA Extension Educator, Jeremy Milander, said, “With the high clearance applicator, cover crops can be planted before harvest and the seed to soil contact will improve germination success as compared to aerial seeding.  It is hypothesized that the pre-harvest planting of cover crops will allow for earlier germination and growth, which ultimately means greater biomass production.”  He added, “This early growth will help to armor the soil and the grower may also be able to improve germination by capitalizing on late season precipitation or crop irrigation events.”

The high-clearance applicator is equipped with a pneumatic seeding unit and in-the-row drop nozzles.  This concept allows for the late-season application of seed into a standing crop; but will eliminate some of the seed loss or drift that can sometimes occur when applying cover crop seed using an aerial method. 

Do you want to see it for yourself?  The project team has secured 3 demonstration plots located within the Bazile Groundwater Management Area.  Don’t miss the seeding demonstration on Friday, September 20th at 10:30 a.m. at the Jim Fuchtman farm, east of Creighton.  Meet at Midwest Seed of Creighton at 53105 HWY 59.  Stop by and watch the machine in action.  Lunch will be served at Midwest Seed after the demonstration.

The other cooperating producers with demonstration plots are Albert Friedrich of Plainview, NE, and Garrett, Mark, and Scott Carpenter of Creighton, NE. 

Cover crops prevent erosion, improve soil’s physical and biological properties, sequester excess nutrients, suppress weeds, improve the water infiltration and water-holding capacity, and break pest cycles along with various other benefits.  Contact your local NRD office for more information.

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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.”

The board established a sign-up period to receive applications for Standard Variances from October 1st, 2019 through October 31st, 2019. Application forms will be available online and in the office beginning October 1st.

Map - Irrigation Development Areas

Application -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.

Irrigation water sampling.jpg

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.

map.Bazile.2019.jpg

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.