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 plenty of conflicts. Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) are charged with the authority of regulating groundwater.
Integrated Management of Ground and Surface Water
Groundwater and surface water are directly connected in the North Platte River and Pumpkin Creek basins. Because of this connection, the hydrologic system can get out of balance if either water source is overused without being replenished. For instance, if surface water is not diverted through the canal systems in the District, then the aquifer will not receive the recharge needed to replace groundwater pumped for irrigation and other uses. Similarly, if too much groundwater is pumped, then the water level in local creeks and streams may decline.
The North Platte NRD began to take steps in 2002 to manage groundwater pumping in certain areas of the district, in order to address declining groundwater levels and protect water resources. These actions prepared the North Platte NRD for additional management decisions that would result from the passage of LB 962 in 2004.
Implementation of Legislative Bill 962
In July 2004, the Legislature passed LB962, which gave the State Department of Natural Resources authority to designate parts of the state as either fully appropriated or over appropriated. In the North Platte NRD, the North Platte River valley and the Pumpkin Creek basin were declared over appropriated, and the rest of the District was designated as fully appropriated. As a result of these designations, the District, in cooperation with DNR, developed an integrated management plan (IMP) outlining how the connected resources of surface water and groundwater would be managed together. The planning process included input from many different stakeholders and the general public. The plan was adopted in 2009 and runs through September 2019. The North Platte NRD also participated in a basin wide IMP process for the entire upper Platte basin, which was similarly declared over appropriated in 2004.
The 2004 designations and the District IMP put in place a moratorium on the expansion of irrigated acres in the District. This moratorium prohibits the use of existing wells to increase the number of acres that were historically irrigated prior to July 16, 2004. As part of its 2002 management actions, the North Platte NRD had already placed a moratorium on issuing permits for new well construction throughout the entire District.
Exceptions to the Moratorium on New Wells
- Test holes
- Dewatering wells with an intended use of 90 days or less
- Monitoring wells
- Wells constructed pursuant to a groundwater remediation plan under the Environmental Protection Act
- Water wells for range livestock or household domestic uses
- Wells necessary to alleviate an emergency situation involving the provision of water for human consumption or public health and safety
- Replacement wells, provided that the consumptive use of the replacement well is no greater than the historic consumptive use of the water wells it is to replace
- Map of the Overappropriated and Fully Appropriated portions of the North Platte NRD
- DNR’s Integrated Management Website
- North Platte NRD Designated as Overappropriated Basin