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.