Federal, State & Local Agencies Join Forces to Develop Water Conservation Goals

Federal, State & Local Agencies Join Forces to Develop Water Conservation Goals


(GRAND ISLAND, NE) James Huntwork, USDA-NRCS district liaison, reported to the Central Platte Natural Resources District's board of directors Thursday about a Water Conservation meeting held at the CPNRD recently to bring local, state and federal agencies together to collaborate water conservation efforts. Huntwork said that Craig Derickson, state conservationist, held the meeting as a starting point for continued dialogue to work toward establishing common benchmark conditions, monitoring techniques, and goals related to water quantity and quality in central Nebraska.

Natural Resources Districts from the Platte Basin, the Department of Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Quality, and the U.S. Geological Survey, discussed the benefits to inventory the measurement tools, data, data analysis and data interpretation to better target technical and program resources in order to address water quantity and quality concerns. Huntwork said that NRCS will always be required to quantify accomplishments through use of technical and financial assistance, and that there is a general need for data analysis assistance. With the new Farm Bill, partnerships to leverage dollars for additional conservation treatment will continue to be very important to meet goals and mandates. The NRCS district conservationists in Nebraska will continue to primarily work at the NRD level to gather input for use in guiding program activities.


-Public Request- David Burkholder, Dawson County Drainage District #4, requested assistance in the amount of $50,000 for construction of a double box culvert on the lower end of the Drainage District's ditch system. Burkholder said construction of a culvert would provide return flows to the Platte River. This was referred to the Western Projects Committee for review, with a possible recommendation to the full board at the March meeting.

-Variance/Appeals Sub-Committee- The board denied landowner appeals from Dawson and Merrick counties on determination of their irrigated acres.

-Eastern Projects Committee- The board awarded a contract for tree clearing on the Upper Prairie/Silver/Moores Flood Control Project to BD Construction of Columbus in the amount of $67,100. Trees will be cleared on the dry dam sites north of Shelton and are scheduled to be completed by early spring. The board also approved a fund transfer within the Projects budget of $750,000 for land acquisition. When completed in 2017, the project will provide flood protection to urban, residential, commercial properties and agricultural land in western and northern Grand Island. It will also remove those areas from the FEMA Floodplain.

-Water Resources Committee- The board approved a request from Kevin Prior, Olsson Associates, in the amount of $66,500 for Cozad Canal Amendment #9 for observation hours. They also approved the following change orders for Miller & Associates for construction on the Thirty Mile canal: Change Order #1/Phase 2: a deduction of $18,567.50, Change Order #1/Phase 4: an addition of $18,029.50, Change Order #2/Phase 4: an addition of $4,760.

-Programs Committee- The board voted to change the name of the NRD's College Scholarship Program to honor the late Ron Bishop. The committee started reviewing proposed budgets for the cost share and information/education programs for the Fiscal 2015 budget.

-Canals- Jesse Mintken, projects manager, gave an update on canal rehabs in Dawson County:

-Thirty Mile: The CPNRD signed an interlocal agreement with the Thirty Mile Irrigation District on February 13, 2014 creating the Stream Flow Enhancement Alliance. The interlocal agreement outlines the continued maintenance and delivery of surface water for both irrigation and groundwater recharge, which will help meet Federal Fish and Wildlife Platte River target flows for endangered species. The partners will use the canal in the non-irrigation season to hold diverted excess Platte River flows when available. This will help meet the requirements of the Platte River Recovery Program agreement between Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and the U.S. government. The Alliance will also help meet the requirements of LB 962 which require the level of use to be returned to the 1997 level, and assist in returning the area between Lake McConaughy and Elm Creek from the currently "over appropriated" condition back to a "fully appropriated" condition.

The partners will also be able to divert allocations that are leased back to TMID, and return the consumptive use portion of the transferred water to the Platte River. The non-consumptive portion of the appropriation will be used for ground water recharge throughout the canal system. Thirty Mile Irrigation District (formerly Thirty Mile Canal Co.) is located in Lincoln and Dawson Counties.

Recently, the Thirty Mile Canal Company held its annual stake holders meeting in which it voted unanimously to dissolve and allocate its assets equally to the newly formed TMID and the CPNRD. The two parties will jointly manage the Irrigation District through the joint Stream Flow Enhancement Alliance. The assets include the former canal company's water rights, buildings and equipment. The CPNRD acquired its half of the assets through a management agreement with the Thirty Mile Irrigation District.

Midlands Construction has 16 structures to complete, with 11 of those being drop structures that will lengthen the floor to help prevent washout and erosion around the structure. The other five include the river return structure, work on the 96 Spillway, a small field bridge, work on the Henderson Spillway and a small siphon replacement.

-Cozad Canal- Simon Contractors has approximately 20 structures left to complete with only minor work remaining. The return structure at the headgates is still on track to be finished by the April 1st. BSB Construction has completed clearing and grubbing around the railroad and between the highway. The inside of the canal is 90% finished with a few places left to tidy up once the frost is out. Philip Carkowski Construction & Trenching will complete work on the laterals by the end of the month.

-Orchard Alfalfa- Van Kirk Bros. has completed 5 of the 7 box culverts they had to and plan to have those done and be off the project by the 1st of March. BSB Construction started clearing and shaping the lower 7 miles of the canal and will work until the canal is ready to take water. Simon Contractors poured the river and canal aprons.

-November Election- Dianne Miller, administrative director, reported on the current filings for the November board election. Incumbents include Subdistrict 1: Brian Keiser of Gothenburg, Subdistrict 3: Steve Sheen of Kearney, Subdistrict 4: Robert Schanou of Shelton, Subdistrict 7: Ed Stoltenberg of Cairo, Subdistrict 8: Alicia Haussler of Grand Island, Subdistrict 9: Ed Kyes of Central City, Subdistrict 10: Charles Maser of Grand Island, At Large: Dick Mercer of Kearney. Non-incumbents include Subdistrict 6: Kelly Markham and Jerry Milner, both of Grand Island.

-Director Appointment- Dan Ohlman of Alda was presented with a plaque for his service on the Central Platte NRD board of directors. Ohlman served two terms from 2001-2008 and from 2011-2013. He resigned due to health issues. Two candidates have filed for his seat in Subdistrict 6 for the November election. A sub-committee will interview those candidates to fill the current remaining term through December 31, 2014. Both candidates will remain on the ballot for the November election.

-Legislation- Mark Czaplewski, biologist, gave an update on bills dealing with natural resources.

-State Fair- The board approved contributing $1,000 towards the natural resources display to be located in the Nebraska Agricultural Experience Building. The Nebraska Association of Resources Districts plans to contribute $2,000 and has requested $1,000 from each of the 23 NRDs to contribute a total of $25,000 towards the display.

-NARD Foundation- The board approved a request from Jim Bendfeldt to retire the NARD Foundation Ron Bishop football with an annual donation to the Foundation in the amount of $1,000.

-Cost Share- The board approved 19 cost share applications in the amount of $104,412.28 through the Nebraska Soil & Water Conservation Program and the Central Platte NRD Cost Share Programs. Practices approved include: planned grazing, underground pipeline, surge valve, center pivot, well decommissioning, tree planting and deferred grazing.

-Upcoming Meetings- March 27, April 24, May 22