Watershed & Flood Control
Nebraska statute gives NRDs the power to “develop and execute, through the exercise of powers and authorities granted by law, plans, facilities, works and programs relating to 12 specific purposes”, including:
- Prevention of damages from flood water and sediment
- Flood prevention and control
- Drainage improvement and channel rectification
The North Platte NRD has had a part in developing several projects in the basin, usually working with partners such as the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Natural Resources Commission.
Gering Valley Drain Project
This on-going project initially started in the 1960s, before the NRD came into existence. Gering Valley is sponsored locally by the North Platte NRD and funded by the USDA’s PL-566 watershed and flood control program. It is a joint effort of the NRD, Scotts Bluff County, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the Department of Defense Corps of Engineers. One of the state’s most extensively engineered PL-566 projects; it protects a 57,600-acre watershed south of Gering in Scotts Bluff County. The project has several dams and flood control channels designed to control the water flowing out of the surrounding canyons before it can enter the town of Gering.
Structurally, Gering Valley includes nine floodwater retarding structures, 10 miles of diversions, 31 miles of channel improvement, and 35 miles of surface water disposal channels. Underground pipes and land treatment measures also are a part of the project. The project cost has been about $7.6 million, with PL-566 funds making up $4,756,400 of that. For every dollar spent, $1.50 was returned in the amount of benefits gained. In 1998 dollars, the average annual benefits of the Gering Valley Project are $1,660,300.
Operation and maintenance of the Gering Valley project are carried on by a joint committee made up of the NRD, Scotts Bluff County, Gering-Fort Laramie Irrigation District, Gering Irrigation District, and Central Irrigation District
Dam H and the Yensen Drain, constructed in 2011-12, was the final piece in the Gering Valley Drain Project.
Banner County Projects
The Lover's Leap Project
The Lover’s Leap Project two miles southeast of Harrisburg in Banner County drains a 14.5-square-mile area and protects 5,000 acres of floodplain. The flood and silt control dam was completed in 1985 to address problems with erosion, sediment and flood water damage from frequent thunderstorms that were brief but high-intensity. The cost of the dam and stream bank stabilization was shared by the USDA Resource Conservation and Development (75 percent) and the North Platte NRD (25 percent).
Garden County Projects
The four Garden County dams help protect valuable agricultural land, homes, roads, livestock, and people from damaging flooding.
The Jackson-Paisley-Robinson Project southeast of Oshkosh was built in 1976 to prevent flood damages to crops, pastures, range, roads, irrigation canals, field ditches, fences and farmsteads. In addition to the dam, conservation practices were applied to the surrounding land, including grazing, cropping and irrigation management practices.
Briscoe Dam three miles northeast of Lewellen was built in 1980 to address a problem with floodwater and sediment damaging cropland, irrigation canals, pastures, roads and bridges. Resource Conservation and Development paid for construction, and the NRD paid administrative costs.
Wes Clark Dam
Wes Clark Dam is 4.5 miles east of Lewellen. Built in 1980, it also protects the surrounding area from sedimentation and flood damage. The costs were shared by RC&D (75 percent) and the NRD (25 percent). The project also involved some critical area planting and fencing.
Dormann Dam is three miles north and a half mile east of Oshkosh. Drainage from 1,600 acres in that area was causing sedimentation problems and leaving debris that clogged a bridge on Highway 27 south of Oshkosh before the dam was built in 1978. The cost was shared by RC&D and the NRD.