Water Management Programs


Groundwater 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 and provide livestock, industrial and other uses. Groundwater is also used to irrigate agricultural crops as a primary source and 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 groundwater irrigated. Early settlers in the area recognized the potential agricultural benefits of an inflow of water to supplement annual rainfall. By the early 1900s, 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 1920s, over 2,000 miles of canals and lateral ditches were providing life-saving water resources to 220,000 acres. Much of the groundwater resources used today stem from annual surface water releases. Groundwater aquifers are recharged from water flowing through canals, laterals, and flood irrigation practices.

For more on water and history, Click Here.

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 groundwater. 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 to promote different water-saving measures.

NRD Responsibilities

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

Best Management Practices

More Water Management Programs:

Photo of Integrated Management Plan (IMP)

Integrated Management Plan (IMP)

The North Platte NRD Second Increment Integrated Management Plan is now available below. Additional materials related to integrated management planning in the NPNRD, including the first increment IMP and… Read More
Photo of Western Water Use Management Model

Western Water Use Management Model

The North Platte NRD uses the data gathered and incorporates the information into a groundwater model to enhance its decision-making capabilities.  The models are used to simulate conditions in the aquifers,… Read More
Photo of Pumpkin Creek Basin

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… Read More
Photo of Lisco­-Oshkosh­-Lewellen


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

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
Photo of Water Monitoring

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
Photo of Soil and Water Regulations

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