Being proactive in the conjunctive management of groundwater and surface water is what led the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) Board of Directors to implement a voluntary Integrated Management Plan (IMP) for the protection of the resources. The citizens of the LENRD depend on abundant water resources for domestic, agricultural, and industrial uses, all of which contribute to the economy of the district. Water resources are also important for wildlife habitat and recreational uses such as fishing, hunting, boating, and swimming.
In early 2012, the LENRD board took action to initiate development of a joint voluntary IMP with the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (NDNR), to provide a needed framework for wise, long-term management of finite water resources.
In 2013, the NDNR and the seven NRDs that make up the Lower Platte River Basin, formed the Lower Platte River Basin Coalition. The Coalition’s mission is to coordinate efforts to protect the long-term balance of the Basin’s water uses and water supplies. A primary action of the Coalition was to voluntarily develop a Lower Platte Basin Water Management Plan, which was adopted by all parties as of January 10, 2018.
The LENRD continued to move forward with their individual plan, and developed a Stakeholder Advisory Committee consisting of representatives from: Agriculture, Industry, Public Water Supply, Domestic well owners, Environmental, as well as County and City officials. This Committee met in 2014 and 2015 to help prioritize goals and action items of the IMP. The district continued to work with the NDNR to develop a working draft over the next several years.
The NDNR and the LENRD jointly held a public meeting to discuss and answer public questions on the IMP on August 9, 2018. A public hearing was then held on August 23, 2018, where public testimony on the final version of the plan was recorded. After reviewing the testimony, the LENRD board voted to approve the IMP at their September 27th board meeting.
LENRD Assistant Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “The purpose of this voluntary IMP is to achieve and sustain a long-term balance between water uses and water supplies. Protection of existing users is also a major factor since there is still available water in the Basin, and the District is continuing to add new users on an annual basis. This will be achieved through coordinated management of hydrologically connected groundwater and surface water resources. The voluntary IMP is considered a proactive approach to protecting available water supplies to better ensure that the resource will be available for future generations and also makes the District eligible to apply for grant funding through the NDNR Water Sustainability Fund.”
In other action, the board authorized LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, to sign the contract with JEO Consulting Group to update the District’s Hazard Mitigation Plan.
The board also authorized the signing of an interlocal agreement for obtaining seedling trees and shrubs with the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts for the LENRD’s Conservation Tree Program.
In other business, staff was authorized to solicit bids for flow meter maintenance on mechanical meters in Madison and Antelope Counties for 776 meters and will sign a contract with the lowest responsible bidder.
The next committee meeting will be held on Thursday, October 11th at 7:00 p.m.. The next board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, October 25th at 7:30 p.m. at the LENRD office in Norfolk.