45 Days of Facts Count Down


On July 1st, the North Platte Natural Resources District (NRD) will be celebrating our 45th years of operation. In conjunction with the other 22 NRD’s, we will be posting daily interesting pieces of information about both the NPNRD and the NRD system as a hole. 


  1. In 1895, the first irrigation district in Nebraska was created within the NPNRD area. Source: “Flat Water: A History of Nebraska and Its water”
  2. Since 1895, Nebraska has had an administrative system overseeing the orderly use of the State’s surface water resources. All diversions of surface water for irrigation, hydropower, industrial use, municipal use, domestic use, storage and other uses require a State permit. The Nebraska Department of Natural Resources is the State agency authorized by Nebraska statutes to issue surface water permits, called appropriations. More recently, authority of the Department was broadened to include issuing permits for instream uses for recreation; fish and wildlife; induced ground water recharge for public water suppliers; and diversions by ground water irrigation wells located within 50 feet of the bank of the channel. Each permit has certain responsibilities, limitations and conditions associated with it.” This quote is sourced from http://www.dnr.ne.gov/swr
  3. In 1921, the Nebraska State Irrigation School opens near Scottsbluff NE, but in 1923 the school closes due to low enrollment. Source: “Flat Water: A History of Nebraska and Its Water
  4. Pathfinder Dam was one of the first constructed by the brand-new U.S. Reclamation Service or as it is known today’s Bureau of Reclamation, that was formed to administer the Reclamation Act of 1902. https://www.nps.gov/nr/testing/ReclamationDamsAndWaterProjects/Pathfinder_Dam.html
  5. In 1935, Governor Cochran places Scotts Bluff County under martial law over a water dispute in the Mitchell Irrigation District, the so called “Water War of 1935” Source: “Flat Water: A History of Nebraska and Its Water”
  6. There are 5 NRD’s that make up the Upper Platte Basin area.
  7. In 1957, the Watershed Conservancy District Act was enacted to provide a local entity of government with authority to sponsor flood control projects http://www.npnrd.org/assets/site/History/History_of_NRDs0709.pdf
  8. In 1957, the legislature makes well registration mandatory. Source: “Flat Water: A History of Nebraska and Its Water”
  9. Between 1957 and 1969, the following changes occurred one was that a general leadership role of local district officials and the State Soil and Water Conservation commission began to emerge in the broad field of natural resources development. http://www.npnrd.org/assets/site/History/History_of_NRDs0709.pdf
  10. Between 1957 and 1969, the following changes occurred one was that the Soil and Water Conservation Districts were authorized to receive county financial assistance and did in fact receive both county and state financial assistance.  http://www.npnrd.org/assets/site/History/History_of_NRDs0709.pdf Pages 2 & 3
  11. Between 1957 and 1969, the following changes occurred one was that in the late 1950’s the name of soil conservation districts was changed to include the words “and water. . .;” http://www.npnrd.org/assets/site/History/History_of_NRDs0709.pdf  Page 2
  12. Between 1957 and 1969, the following changes occurred one was that authorities of these districts were broadened to include recreation, fish and wildlife, and water quality;  http://www.npnrd.org/assets/site/History/History_of_NRDs0709.pdf  Page 3
  13. There are 12 main responsibilities that the NRD's achieve to fulfill, 1. Development, management, use and conservation of groundwater and surface water 2. Soil conservation 3. Erosion prevention and control 4. Flood prevention and control 5. Pollution control 6. Water supply for any beneficial uses 7. Prevention of damages from flood water and sediment 8. development and management of recreational and park facilities. 9. Forestry and range management 10. Development and management of fish and wildlife habitat 11. Drainage improvement 12. Solid waste disposal. Source: http://www.npnrd.org/
  14. The state of Nebraska has been divided into 13 river basins, this was applied by Section 2-15,100 of the Nebraska statutes gives the DNR responsibility for conducting the State Water Planning and Review Process. https://dnr.nebraska.gov/sites/dnr.nebraska.gov/files/doc/data/dams/river-basin.html
  15. By 1960 an estimated 2,700,000 acres are being irrigated in Nebraska. Source: Flat Water: A History of Nebraska and Its Water. Today in the wonderful state of Nebraska there are 8,297,560 irrigated acres, as of 2014, leading the USA in number of irrigated acres. For more information check out: http://www.neo.ne.gov/statshtml/73b.html , and http://water.unl.edu/cropswater
  16. The NPNRD also maintains 15 flood control structures in the District helping protect lives and properties from flood damage. Source: http://www.npnrd.org/
  17. Early in 1969 the booklet, “Modernization of Local Resource District Legislation” was prepared by the Commission staff in the form of a “Special Recommendation” of the State Water Plan. After approval by the Technical Advisory Board and Special Representative Committees of the Commission, it was given final approval by the Commission in March of 1969. http://www.npnrd.org/assets/site/History/History_of_NRDs0709.pdf Page 5
  18. Senator Maurice Kremer introduced and the Nebraska Legislature enacted Legislative Bill (LB) 1357 in 1969 to combine Nebraska's 154 special purpose entities into 24 Natural Resources Districts by July, 1972. Making 2017 45 years. 1969, NRD legislation is signed into law.  Pictured above is the signing the bill to create NRDs in Nebraska are past Nebraska Governor Norbert Tiemann, center, and those instrumental in the bill’s passage;  from left:  Harold Siek, Herman Link, Chet Ellis, Senator Maurice Kremer, Governor Tiemann, Warren Patefield, Milton Fricke, and Warren Fairchild. The Nebraska Legislature enacted laws in 1972 to combine 154 special purpose entities into Natural Resources Districts.  On July 1, 1972, Natural Resources Districts officially came into existence. http://www.npnrd.org/assets/site/History/History_of_NRDs0709.pdf  
  19. A meeting of all NRD directors was called by the Commission on May 2, 1972 at Kearney, Nebraska. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the necessary activities and responsibilities of the boards. The meeting proved very successful and provided those in attendance with a number of ideas and suggestions which they could utilize in their own districts. Twenty of the twenty-four NRDs had representatives at this meeting. http://www.npnrd.org/assets/site/History/History_of_NRDs0709.pdf Pages 5 & 6
  20. On June 6, 1972, only 25 days before the NRDs were to become operative, the long-anticipated lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the natural resources district law was filed in Lancaster County District Court. The outcome of the lawsuit being that on June 24, 1972, Lancaster County District Court Judge William Hastings took the request for a temporary injunction to block the formation of the 24 NRDs under advisement. On June 29, he refused to grant such an injunction. However, Judge Hastings did temporarily enjoin the NRDs from transferring, liquidating, depleting or co-mingling any of the assets of the 154 special purpose districts being merged into NRDs, except as was necessary to continue the present level of operations and pay current obligations and liabilities on contracts. http://www.npnrd.org/assets/site/History/History_of_NRDs0709.pdf Pages 16 & 17
  21. There has been three NPNRD Managers the first was Jim Cook, hired at the January 10th, 1973 Board Meeting, second was Ron Cacek, starting on May 16th, 1973, and the third and our current Manager John Berge, who started on July 1st, 2013.
  22. Passage of a bill in 1984 allowed the state Game and Parks Commission and local Natural Resource Districts to apply for instream-flow rights and requiring Natural Resource Districts to prepare ground water-management plans. Source: “Flat Water: A History of Nebraska and Its Water”
  23. The NPNRD has currently 22 employees plus 3 NRCS clerks that are extended employees of the NPNRD making 25 total employees for the NPNRD.
  24. There are 23 recreational areas on the Recreational Application. or Rec. App. that the NPNRD has developed to service the people of the NPNRD. For exhibiting that many wonderful areas that are within the NPNRD boundaries.  http://www.npnrd.org/programs/recreation.html
  25. There was originally 24 NRDs'. Those boundaries are organized based on Nebraska's major river basins which allows for better management practices to be applied to similar topography. In 1989, the Middle Missouri NRD and the Papio NRD were merged into one, becoming the Papio- Missouri NRD which resulted in the current 23-NRD system that we still have today.
  26. The North Platte Natural Resources District still applies for in-stream flow rights for ground water recharge each year.  
  27. A moratorium on new water well drilling in 2001 was the first such moratorium along the Platte River.
  28. The NPNRD moved into its current building in September of 2006.
  29. Western Water use model is a collection of data put together by the NPNRD and the SPNRD that has been collected for the last 7 years. To look at this program http://www.npnrd.org/water-management/western-water-use-management-model.html
  30. The year 2012 marked 40 years of Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts in operation.
  31. Commingled water accounts for over half of the irrigation water that is used on lands within the District (145,660 ground water-only acres and 114,315 commingled water irrigated acres).
  32. Trees planted in the NPNRD equal well over 5.5 million.
  33. NRDs have planted more than 89 million trees since 1972.
  34. The NPNRD also maintains approximately 800 monitoring wells to check the concentration of nitrate, arsenic, and uranium in the ground water, as well as static ground water levels.
  35. The NPNRD board of directors is comprised of 9 members that are publicly elected on a quarterly basis.
  36. Office Location-The law requires that each NRD maintain an office and that the minutes, records, books, etc. of the district be open to the public at reasonable business hours. The NPNRD is located at 100547 Airport Road, Scottsbluff, NE  69361. The office hours are 8:00 am to 4:30 pm weekdays, closing at 4:00 on Fridays
  37. To protect lives and property NRDs have constructed or maintain more than 700 flood control structures in Nebraska.
  38. Commingled water accounts for over half of the irrigation water that is used on lands within the District (145,660 ground water-only acres and 114,315 commingled water irrigated acres).
  39. The NPNRD has a calendar of events and deadlines on its website for the convenience of all.
  40. The NPNRD contact information for all the staff and board members is found on the www.npnrd.org website.
  41. The number of irrigation Wells in the NPNRD are 2,352 A map of the wells of Nebraska can be found at: http://water.unl.edu/documents/Location%20of%20irrigation%20wells%20in%202007.pdf
  42. Western Nebraska ground water is greatly dependent upon the series of canals, tributaries, and seasonal irrigation run-off, which recharge the aquifer.  
  43. NPNRD Motto: protecting lives, protecting property and protecting the future
  44. Total Irrigated Acres in the NPNRD approximately equals 450,000 as of 2017
  45. 45th NRD Anniversary video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOWVsBSr3dA&t=2s