Nebraska Department of Natural Resources Leverages Federal Funding to Aid Water Conservation Efforts
LINCOLN – The Department of Natural Resources (Department) has been working with several water management agencies in Nebraska over the past decade to use state and local funds to address water management challenges. These efforts have also sought to leverage state and local funds with available federal funding for water management and conservation. Most recently, the Lower Republican Natural Resources District (LRNRD), located in Alma, Nebraska, was awarded $2 million from the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) to install near real-time telemetry equipment on more than 1,000 irrigation flow meters to improve farm water management and reporting. These funds will also support weather stations with telemetry in eight locations across the district area to collect evapotranspiration data. This data allows growers to make sound irrigation decisions and is expected to save over 4,000 acre-feet of water annually.
The total project is expected to cost $4,360,858. The Department provided $1.2 million, and LRNRD used these state dollars in combination with local funds to successfully acquire the $2 million from Reclamation’s WaterSMART program.
The Department also recently received a $200,000 grant through Reclamation to continue the development of a Decision Support System (DSS) for the Platte River. The DSS provides real-time water availability data to Nebraska’s water managers to leverage opportunities to re-time water supplies through storage and groundwater recharge to support goals and objectives of integrated management planning efforts. The DSS web-based interface increases efficiency, transparency, and accountability while simplifying the process and reducing the regulatory burden on customers applying for excess water use.