Temporary Stay on Irrigation Development Under Consideration; Possibility for Expanded Rural Water System; Schuyler Levee Update, and more!
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NRD Considering Temporary Stay on New Irrigation Development

The Lower Platte North NRD Board of Directors is considering changes to irrigation development policies after another hot, dry summer intensified already-strong demand for new irrigated acres in the district.

For the second year in a row, requests for new irrigated acres have far outstripped available allocations in the district. The NRD has also received numerous reports of domestic wells going dry, particularly in the Bruno-Brainard-David City area in Butler County, and a corresponding rise in well interference complaints.

To deal with these issues, the NRD Water Committee is recommending that a 180-day stay be put in place for all new irrigation development. The NRD Board will vote on the recommendation at its regular monthly meeting on October 14.

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Rural Water Expansion Could Be On Tap

An expansion of the Lower Platte North Rural Water System (LPNRWS) may be on tap if there’s enough interest among rural residents in Butler and Saunders Counties.

Surveys were mailed to every property owner in a 36-square-mile area surrounding Bruno in mid-September to gauge interest in expanding the district’s existing rural water line running from David City to Bruno. Residents are highly encouraged to complete the survey – whether they’re in support of the rural water concept or not – and return it to the NRD by October 15 for tabulation. The results will be extremely important in determining if an expanded system is warranted, and if so, the estimated cost per user.

“This is truly a unique opportunity for farms and residents within the project area,” said Mike Sousek, NRD Rural Water Manager. “With the extremely dry conditions this year and last, having a safe, reliable source of water is more important than ever.”

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The Finishing Touches

Work Underway on Final Components of Lake Wanahoo / Sand Creek Project

Work has begun on the last pieces of the Lake Wanahoo/Sand Creek Environmental Project in Saunders County. Two final watershed dams upstream of Lake Wanahoo will be finished by the end of the year,  joining five other smaller dams constructed in 2011 and 2012. These seven upstream dams, ranging in size from 12 -45 acres, will help trap sediment and nutrients before they reach Lake Wanahoo, preserving water quality and extending the life of the lake. The upstream structures will also create new wetland areas to help offset wetland losses that have occured in Todd Valley over the years. Unlike Lake Wanahoo, the upstream dams don’t include a recreation component and aren’t open to the public.

Work is also scheduled to begin this November on the Highway 77 Bypass which will swing west and north of Wahoo before crossing the Lake Wanahoo dam and linking to the existing Highway 77/109 junction one mile north of town.  The initial work this fall will focus on bridges, culvert placement and grading, with the bulk of construction taking place in 2014. 


Levee Construction Near Schuyler Scheduled to Begin This Fall

Construction begins this fall on a levee project to reduce flooding in the city of Schuyler.

The Lower Platte North NRD and  Schuyler are the local partners in the project, which involves a 21/2 mile levee along a stretch near Shell Creek north and east of Schuyler. The Federal sponsor is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

Project construction and land rights costs will be approximately $3.9 million, with 65% ($2.54 million) coming from the Corps and the remainder ($1.37 million) from the local partners.  This is significantly lower than initial estimates, which pegged the total costs at $5.7 million. TJC Engineering will be the primary contractor.

Preliminary construction is set to begin in early November, and will focus on site clearing and preparation. Major construction will begin in 2014 and is expected to be completed by the end of that calendar year. 

A second phase of the project, involving a new 3-mile levee along the Platte River south and west of Schuyler, is on indefinite hold due to unexpectedly high costs. It is currently unknown when this phase might move forward, although the partners would still like to pursue it if and when it becomes economically feasible.

Working for Water Quality: Wahoo Creek

More financial and technical help for conservation work should be on tap soon for landowners in the Wahoo Creek watershed, thanks to the completion of a comprehensive water quality management plan.

The 517-square-mile Wahoo Creek watershed, which includes the majority of land in Saunders County, was listed as “impaired” by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality in 2007 due to E. coli and other pollutants. The Wahoo Creek Watershed Water Quality Management Plan was developed to address those issues.

The Lower Platte North NRD led a two-year effort to develop the plan with stakeholders that included local landowners, other government agencies, and JEO Consulting. 

The plan targets major reductions in several pollutants in the watershed, including E. coli (76% reduction), nitrogen (26% reduction), phosphorus (50% reduction), and sediment (67% reduction). To achieve those goals, the plan calls for a mixture of Best Management Practices (BMPs) and education and outreach efforts.

The NRD is working on finalizing grant funds for these BMPs and possibly some larger watershed improvements. It is anticipated that landowners will be able to begin applying for these funds next year.

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REMINDER: 

No Fall Fertilizer Application Before November 1

Under the Lower Platte North NRD’s Ground Water Management Area Rules & Regulations, application of commercial nitrogen fertilizer is restricted as follows:

Phase I Management Area (applies to entire district):

  • Fall application of commercial nitrogen fertilizer is prohibited on non-sandy soils before November 1.
  • Fall and winter application of commercial nitrogen fertilizer is prohibited on sandy soils until March 1.

Phase II Management Areas (Bellwood & Richland/Schuyler areas):

  • Requirements from Phase I apply, and:
  • Commercial nitrogen fertilizer only permitted on non-sandy soils from November 1 to March 1 if approved inhibitor is used at recommended rates.
  • Operators applying commercial fertilizer from November 1 to March 1 must furnish records from their dealer that an approved inhibitor was used as recommended.
  • Use of fertilizer calibration meters is encouraged for all fertilizer applications.

Operators in Phase II areas are also reminded that to remain in compliance, they must submit fertilizer application reports by December 31. If you have questions, please contact Water Resources Specialist Russell Oaklund at roaklund@lpnnrd.org or 402.443.4675. 

 

Protecting Lives. Protecting Property. Protecting the Future.

How prepared are area communities for natural hazards like flooding, tornadoes, and wildfires? More importantly, how can they be better prepared?

Those are the key questions the Lower Platte North NRD will be considering as it updates a district-wide Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP). An HMP helps communities take a proactive approach to reduce damages from natural disasters, and is required under the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000.

“This type of planning helps our communities reduce or eliminate long-term risks to their citizens and property from natural hazards, and can qualify them for grant funds to help improve their disaster preparedness,” said NRD Assistant Manager Tom Mountford. “It’s a win-win.”

HMP-related grant funds could include things such as storm sirens, public storm shelters, fire equipment, flood reduction measures, and more, Mountford said.

The NRD will be working with area communities, counties, and neighboring NRDs over the next 18 months to update an initial HMP from 2008. JEO Engineering will guide the process.  

The update will involve $19,000 in local costs. The Lower Platte North  will cover $16,285, with the Upper Big Blue NRD providing the remaining $2,715 through an interlocal agreement. There will be no cost to participating communities.

Lower Platte North NRD Budget, FY2014

The Lower Platte North NRD held the line on spending  increases for fiscal year 2014, with the district’s annual budget coming in 1% lower than the previous year.

The district's projected budget for FY2014 is $7,730,504. The tax levy is .052603, compared to .054863 in FY2013. The 2014 rate equates to $53 in property tax for a $100,000 home or farm, or $2.63/acre for farm land valued at $5,000/acre. 

Projects remains the largest expense category in the budget at 67%. This category includes all land treatment cost-share programs and larger projects such as Lake Wanahoo and the Schuyler 205 Levee Project. 

Grants and funding from State of Nebraska sources make up 50% of the district’s projected income for fiscal year 2013, with local property taxes following at 42%. 

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