Lower Elkhorn NRD receives grant to provide cost-share on irrigation flow meters

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) recently received a grant from Nebraska’s new Water Sustainability Fund (WSF).  Nebraska’s Natural Resources Commission approved nearly $11.5 million in projects, with $900,000 being awarded to the LENRD for water and soil conservation.  The LENRD will provide a match of $600,000.  This will allow the district to have $1.5 million available for cost-share assistance on irrigation flow meters.

At their May board meeting, the LENRD Board of Directors voted to utilize the funding to offer incentive payments of $250 per flow meter to producers who are approved for the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) funding.  They also agreed to offer payments of $500 per flow meter to producers who apply for the LENRD cost-share by June 30, 2017, if they are not receiving any other incentives or cost-share.  LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, said, “The deadline to have flow meters installed on all irrigation wells is January 1, 2018.  The cost-share is available for producers who get signed up before June of next year.”  Producers are asked to sign-up through their county Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office to apply for the LENRD cost-share.

The board also approved a contract with Aqua Geo Frameworks (AGF) for the 2016 Airborne Electromagnetic (AEM) project that will provide aquifer framework mapping across approximately 608 miles of the district, including portions of Cedar, Dixon, Knox, Madison, Pierce, Platte, Stanton, and Wayne counties.  Sousek added, “By continuing the flights, we can work on defining more aquifers and work with the UNL Conservation & Survey Division to complete an atlas of our district.  We have received $250,000 for this project from the WSF, and we will be matching up to $167,000 to continue the mapping project.”

In other action, the board voted to provide a $2,197.70 grant for the Madison Public School’s Watershed Dynamics Program.  The request came from the school for their on-going sampling program of Taylor and Union Creeks.  The program is in its sixth year and provides hands-on learning for many students during the summer months.

Funding was also requested by the Northeast Nebraska Weed Management Area, a group organized under the Northeast Nebraska RC&D, to match LB1038 funding for controlling invasive plant species.  The group is requesting funding from four area NRDs to control invasive plant species in the Elkhorn River Basin.  The board approved $5,000 for the project.

A public hearing was also held, relating to the proposed amendments to the LENRD’s Erosion & Sediment Control Program.  The adopted changes will be added to the plan and can be viewed on the district’s website.

The next board meeting will be held on Thursday, June 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the Lifelong Learning Center on the campus of Northeast Community College in Norfolk.  Visit the LENRD website to sign up for emails from the district.  Like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.