Groundwater Quantity

Groundwater Quantity

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NRDs Are Managing Water Statewide:

Nebraska’s 23 Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) are uniquely positioned to manage the conservation of the state’s natural resources through local

governance.  Because of Nebraska’s diverse geology, climatology, and hydrology, each NRD—and it’s locally elected board of directors—are able to enact rules, regulations, and programs that can assist its District’s citizens and protect local natural resources for future generations to share.  Water management regulations in particular include allocating groundwater, augmenting surface water, requiring flow meters, instituting well drilling moratoriums, requiring water use reports, and restricting the expansion of irrigated acres.  Individual NRDs use these regulations in different combinations and to different degrees depending on their respective geographic areas of concern.  Click on the Statewide Water Quantity Map showing all 23 NRDs and their most recent status of water management techniques. 

So why does this matter to you?   Quite simply, Nebraska’s NRDs are working to ensure that you and future generations can continue to share in the use and enjoyment of our natural resources.  Nebraska’s NRDs:  Protecting Lives, Protecting Property, and Protecting the Future...

 

Certifying Irrigated Acres

Certifying Irrigated Acres
Certifying Irrigated Acres

In 1990, the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District Board of Directors set a goal of holding our District’s water levels to the average level measured in 1978. The board
set two “trigger” points to ensure they could meet that goal, which applies to all wells located within the District’s Groundwater Management Area #1. The management area includes almost the entire District, except a very small portion of Fillmore County, and a portion of eastern Seward County.

The first trigger point was set at three feet above the 1978 average water levels of our district. This trigger point was reached in 2007, and initiated a reporting phase that requires land owners to certify the number of acres being irrigated, and to make annual reports on the amount of water pumped from the wells. This phase will remain in effect even if water levels rise.

If the average water level in our District drops below the 1978 level, which is the second trigger point set by the board, we would move into an allocation phase. The water allocation each land owner receives will be based on how many certified acres are being irrigated by wells located within our District. It should be noted that unless the property is in a fully appropriated area, you can continue to develop additional acres during the allocation phase.

Each spring we mail certification forms to each land owner, or their representative, for review. The forms do not need to be returned unless there are changes or corrections. Because changes happen through-out the year, there is no deadline for submitting corrected forms to our office.
 

Crop Water Usage Data

Crop Water Usage Data
Crop Water Usage Data

Groundwater Levels

Groundwater Levels

Groundwater Withdrawls

Groundwater Withdrawls
Groundwater Withdrawls

Flow Meters

NeRain

NeRain
NeRain

(Nebraska Rainfall Assessment and Information Network)

NeRAIN is a program designed to include volunteers in a study of Nebraska’s complex patterns of rain, hail and snow.  Many volunteers are needed in order to accurately collect precipitation data.  Anyone can participate in this project, from children first learning about weather patterns in school, to retired adults interested in the phenomenon that is Nebraska weather.  The only requirement is that each volunteer report weather conditions on a routine basis.  Each time a rain, hail, or snow storm passes through the area, volunteers are asked to take measurements of precipitation, as well as hail characteristics.   These measurements are used by scientists, crop consultants, farmers, and other entities.  

Please review the District map to see if you are in an area within the white ovals in need of a NeRAIN volunteer.  To sign up to become a volunteer and receive a FREE rain gauge, please feel free to call our office for more information at (402) 362-6601.

Water Transfers

Water Transfers
Water Transfers

A groundwater transfer is the act of pumping water from a well in one survey section of land and piping it to another survey section of land to irrigate.  The NRD has had regulations limiting such transfers since 1982.

Newly adopted regulations in 2014, prohibit new groundwater irrigation transfers in the designated “High-Risk” Groundwater Area.  The area that is now closed to new transfers is shown on the “High-Risk Groundwater Area” map.  Existing groundwater transfers in the designated areas may continue, but may not increase irrigated acres.  

In areas outside the “High-Risk” groundwater area, existing regulations already limit the size and distance that groundwater may be transferred.  Groundwater transfers must be authorized by the NRD Board of Directors prior to implementation.  

High-Risk Groundwater Areas

No transfer of water into, out of, or within the High-Risk Groundwater Area.

Well Spacing Rules:

  • Two miles from municipal wells.
  • 1,250 ft. from ALL high capacity wells.
  • 1,250 ft. from domestic wells under different ownership.

Maximum of:

  • 1 well per 80 acres or less.
  • 2 wells per 160 acres or less.

Well Permits

High-Risk Groundwater Areas

Water-Tip

Water-Tip
Water-Tip

Water-Tip (Watermark ATmometER—Timed Irrigation Project)

Project “WATER—TIP” began in May 2005 by installing atmometers and Watermark® sensors at twenty cooperators’ farms throughout the Upper Big Blue NRD.  In 2006, we saw the numbers of cooperators jump to 67 members involved with WATER-TIP.  As a result, the District offered a pilot program for cost-share in the form of an up-front price break of fifty-percent of the cost of ET gauges, Watermark© sensors and meters.

The purpose of the project is to track soil moisture use by crops across the District through measuring evapo-transpiration (ET) with the atmometers and keeping track of soil moisture at each atmometer site with four Watermark® sensors placed at 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-foot depths.  (The actual equipment may vary depending on specific needs at each site).