The Upper Big Blue NRD Projects Department is one of five departments at the NRD. The Projects Department staff consists of the Department Manager (Professional Engineer), Lead Engineering Technician, and an Engineering Technician. The Projects Department is responsible for providing engineering services on NRD projects, such as dams, recreational facilities, groundwater studies, drainage and stormwater management, and regional planning. The Projects Department also manages soil and water conservation programs aimed at protecting Nebraska’s natural resources.
This program encourages producers to improve irrigation scheduling using ET gauges and Watermark sensors to determine crop water needs. The ET gauge simulates crop water use through evaporation through a ceramic and green canvas membrane. Watermark sensors are used to measure soil moisture in a nearby field to confirm the ET gauge’s accuracy. This program began in the UBBNRD in 2005 with a collaborative effort with the University of Nebraska Extension and 18 collaborators. The program is now being implemented in several NRDs and over 2,000 collaborators. The district sells this equipment to irrigators at a reduced cost to encourage the adoption of scheduling practices.
Through the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, the district administers the Nebraska Buffer Strip Program. This program provides cost-share funds for landowners to establish vegetative buffer strips along shorelines of wetlands, streams, and lakes. Funding comes from a fee assessed on all pesticides registered for use in Nebraska. Contact us for more info on installing a buffer strip on your property.
The Rainwater Basin Joint Venture purchased three Rawhide Portable Corrals through a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust. These corrals will be available for use free of charge for cattle producers that graze wetlands. The three corrals will be housed at the Upper Big Blue NRD, the Little Blue NRD, and the Tri-Basin NRD. Controlled grazing of these wetlands provides a more natural way to manage the ecosystem by providing more diverse plant communities and reducing the use chemical treatments or other mechanical methods to manage these areas. Contact us to reserve it for your cattle.
Divots in the Pivots provides a variety of cost-share assistance to landowners with wetlands in the Rainwater Basin to conserve that wetland while improving profitability of the farming operation. Variable rate irrigation, fencing, livestock watering and conservation easements are few of the many options available. The Rainwater Basin Joint Venture is the major partner in this effort.
Interested in applying? Contact us.
In addition to Project GROW, a wellfield improvement project in York, the district continues to assist communities to develop Wellhead Protection Area Plans. We also assist communities with the implementation of some plan components. These include water sample collection and analysis from rural wells and soil samples collected from the unsaturated zone for nitrates.