Central Platte NRD Hears Health & Water Quality Research

Central Platte NRD Hears Health & Water Quality Research


GRAND ISLAND, Nebraska – Jesse Bell, PhD, and director of the Claire M. Hubbard Professor of Water, Climate and Health Program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center presented results on health and water quality research to the Central Platte Natural Resources District’s Board of Directors at their monthly on Thursday.

Bell reported that Nebraska has one of the highest rates of pediatric cancer in the nation. UNMC and other states have found a correlation between nitrogen fertilizers, animal and human waste. The greatest exposure has been found in agricultural areas and private wells.

Bell said numerous scientific studies have looked at the relationship of nitrate in drinking water on human health. High concentration of nitrate in drinking water have been linked to Methemoglobinemia, colorectal cancer, thyroid disease and neural tube defects (birth defects of spine, brain and spinal cord).

Other cancers have also been linked to high concentrations of nitrates including kidney cancer, bladder cancer, and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma had a three-fold increase in risk with nitrate and atrazine in the Nebraska study. Alzheimer's, Diabetes and Parkinson's Disease have also shown a link to high nitrate concentrations.

Bell encourages all private well owners and homeowners on rural water systems to test their wells for nitrates and atrazine. He said regulatory limits of nitrate in drinking water are set for infant development of methemoglobinemia, but not for other health outcomes. The most vulnerable populations are young infants less than 6 months who appear to be particularly sensitive to the effects of nitrite on hemoglobin, pregnant women and her fetus, and people with oxygen transport or delivery conditions like anemia, cardiovascular disease, lung disease, sepsis and presence of other structural hemoglobin variants; and people with nitrate in their well water.

Central Platte NRD’s Groundwater Quality Management Program was the first in the Central Platte Valley to address widespread high groundwater nitrate problems in 1987. Crop producers in Phases 2 and 3 of the NRD’s management program are required to submit annual groundwater and deep soils analysis for residual nitrogen for nitrogen (NO3-N) content on each field growing corn, grain sorghum or potatoes. Until the Program was adopted, nitrate levels in some areas had increased to 19 parts per million. The current average is 13.3 ppm, however, there are high nitrate areas in the District that require monitoring. To learn more about the NRD’s management program call (308) 385-6282 or visit


-Urban Conservation Program  The Board approved an application for the Village of Cairo in the amount of $20,000 through the CPNRD’s Urban Conservation Program to construct a structure at the North Ball Field. The structure will double the number of bathroom stalls, enhance the field’s appearance, and improve sanitary conditions for attendees. An application from the City of Lexington was tabled until April 28th to request additional information. The Urban Conservation Program was implemented in 2018 to assist cities, villages and counties with a wide range of conservation recreational opportunities.

-Violations Update  Luke Zakrzewski, GIS Image Analyst, requested approval to issue Cease and Desist orders to Richard Urban of Polk County and Chad Robison of Dawson County for failure to comply with the NRD’s Groundwater Management Rules and Regulations. Both landowners received irrigation violation notifications in January for the 2021 irrigation season.  Zakrzewski reported that 47 of the 50 landowners/producers who irrigated land that wasn’t certified or approved for irrigation have responded and are in the process of resolving their violations.

-Managers Report  Lyndon Vogt, General Manager, provided reports on the following:
South Platte River Compact Coalition  The Appropriations Committee is recommending a $53.5 million transfer from the Cash Reserve Fund to the Perkins County Canal Project Fund within the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The canal proposal is included in LB 1015. The funds are to be used by DNR to contract with an independent firm to determine the cost of a canal, potential for water that could be diverted, the timeline of permitting, and drinking water benefits that may exist for the cities of Lincoln and Omaha from the canal’s construction. Findings must be presented at a public hearing to the Appropriations Committee of the Legislature on or before December 31, 2022. Expenditures may also be made for permitting and land options (but not actual land purchases) pursuant to any canal as outlined by the South Platte River Compact.

Educational Center/CPNRD Office  Staff met with JEO regarding suggestions for the proposed building layout. A contract to move forward with the next two phases of the building design have been approved by the Board.

Prairie Silver Moores (PSM) Fire  The afternoon of March 14th, a grass fire burned approximately 50 acres of the north spoil pile and the wooded area to the south of the detention cells at the Upper Prairie Silver Moores Flood Reduction Project in northwest Grand Island. NRD staff burned the detention cell in November 2021, so the fire was much easier to contain. Fire units from Alda, Cairo, Boelus and Dannebrog were on site.

-Natural Resources Conservation Service Joe Krolikowski, District Conservationist, reported that Robert Lawson was hired as the Nebraska State Conservationist in February. Lawson follows Craig Derickson, who served as Nebraska State Conservationist for 10 years. Derickson retired on December 31, 2020, after 35 years of federal service.

Jason Scholz, Resource Conservationist, provided a report on EQIP, CSP and CRP contracts in Hall County.
EQIP  First round preapprovals are being ranked with the possibility to receive additional funds. There are currently six applications for possible preapproval.
CSP  Deadline to apply for renewal April 15th and the NRCS ranking deadline is May 6th.
CRP  General signup offers are being ranked and approved. Grassland CRP deadline is May 13th.
HEL/Wetlands  Working on 11 annual status reviews for Hall County.

-2023 Proposed Budget  The Eastern, Western and Programs committees reviewed proposed budgets for the 2023 fiscal year.

-Cost-Share  Six applications through the Nebraska Soil and Water Conservation and the Central Platte NRD cost-share programs were approved in the amount of $8,773.75 for burn preparation, tree planting, grazing deferment and well decommissioning.

-Upcoming Board Meetings  April 28, May 26, June 23