Water Management

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Ground water is a vital natural resource. This resource exists in the saturated zone of sand, gravel, soil, and stone formations underlying the earth’s surface. In the North Platte River Valley aquifers supply the area’s drinking water, as well as providing livestock, industrial and other uses. Groundwater also is used to irrigate agricultural crops, both as a primary source and to supplement surface water, on above ground water sources.

A Unique Water System

The North Platte Natural Resources District is unique among Nebraska’s NRDs because its agriculture  has more surface water irrigated acres than ground water irrigated acres. Early settlers in the area recognized the potential agricultural benefits of an inflow of water to supplement annual rainfall. By the early 1900’s the “Sweetwater Project”, later called the “N. P. Project”, constructed a diversion dam and canals delivering “surface water” to nearly 1,000 farmers. By the 1920’s over 2,000 miles of canals and lateral ditches were providing waters’ life giving resource to 220,000 acres. Much of the groundwater resources that are used today stem from annual surface water releases.  Groundwater aquifers are recharged from water flowing through canals and laterals and flood irrigation practices.

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Surface Water Canals Affecting Groundwater Levels & North Platte River

Protecting Our Groundwater

State statutes give the North Platte NRD and Nebraska’s other 22 Natural Resource districts the first responsibility for protecting groundwater from over-use. The NRD uses a variety of tools to help with the conservation of ground water. The NRD works with producers to encourage conservation measures, institute regulatory controls to ensure future resources, provide cost-share to improve irrigation practices, and joins with other NRDs, state and federal agencies, and conservation organizations in the promotion of different water saving measures.

NRD Responsibilities 

The North Platte NRD is responsible for protecting ground water from nonpoint-source pollution, such as the leaching of contaminants from runoff or seepage. To address this, issue the NPNRD has designed a ground water quality management sub-area to prevent and mitigate the contamination of groundwater by nitrates. Licensed groundwater technicians extract water samples from a network of monitoring wells in a designed area and use laboratory results to help establish a profile of ground water quality. This data then helps to inform management decisions within that sub management area. Stakeholders within this designated are may be under stricter rules and regulations to mitigate groundwater quality.

Best Management Practices

More Water Management:

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Integrated Management Plan (IMP)

Early explorers called Nebraska the Great American Desert, and every now and then, it lives up to its nickname. The availability of water is one of the biggest challenges producers face, and it has caused… Read More
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Water Retirement Programs

The North Platte Natural Resources District (NRD) has created two new programs to help the District meet obligations under its Integrated Management Plan. The two new programs, Encouraging Producer Innovation… Read More
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Western Water Use Management Model

  The North Platte NRD uses the data gathered and incorporates the information into a ground water models to enhance their decision-making capabilities.  The models are used to simulate conditions in… Read More
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Pumpkin Creek Basin

The Pumpkin Creek Basin Groundwater Management Sub-Area, established February 15th 2001, includes parts of Banner, southwestern Scotts Bluff and southwestern Morrill counties. The sub-area has three purposes:… Read More
Photo of Lisco­-Oshkosh­-Lewellen

Lisco­-Oshkosh­-Lewellen

The North Platte Natural Resources District has established the Lisco-Oshkosh- Lewellen (LOL) Ground water Quality Sub-Management Area in parts of Garden and Morrill Counties. The LOL sub-area consists… Read More
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Best Management Practices

Simple Suggestions to Help You Protect Our Groundwater Where does pollution come from? It could come from any of us. The nation’s biggest water-quality challenge today is nonpoint-source (NPS) pollution,… Read More
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Water Monitoring

The North Platte NRD requires sound information on which to base any water management decisions and has developed an extensive program of monitoring the quality and quantity of the groundwater resources… Read More
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Soil and Water Regulations

Landowners, farmers and others should be aware of several regulatory requirements established to protect soil and water quality: Well Registration Sedimentation & Erosion Improper Irrigation Runoff Well… Read More