Lower Elkhorn NRD Votes Not to Study Bypass Channel for Battle Creek

Lower Elkhorn NRD Votes Not to Study Bypass Channel for Battle Creek


NORFOLK, Nebraska – The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) is currently working with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and JEO Consulting Group (JEO) to complete a study of the Battle Creek Watershed. At their March meeting, the LENRD board members discussed whether to sign an additional contract with JEO to further study a diversion channel to protect the City of Battle Creek. The diversion channel was being revisited to give the board members more information about this alternative.

“It comes down to what is this board comfortable with spending. No matter which way you go, there will be tough decisions and people’s lives are going to be affected,” said Mike Sousek, LENRD general manager. “We have always remained fiscally conservative with our tax levy. If this is the direction you want to go, you need to know how that decision will affect the local taxpayers.”

The diversion channel is estimated to cost over $26 million.  The costs for this alternative would outweigh the benefits, which would make grant funding unavailable for this option.  Another flood control option is available for $6 million, with the use of grant funding.  Sousek says, “The real decision before this board is how much do we burden the local taxpayers when multiple projects provide flood protection to the city of Battle Creek.  The financial considerations warrant further board discussions.”

Chad Korth of Meadow Grove, who represents subdistrict 1, said, “The people of Battle Creek deserve to be protected. That’s why we’re here, to help them.”

After hours of discussion, the board voted not to pursue a study of the bypass channel that would have cost approximately $80,000.  The board will continue to investigate options to protect the city and the watershed.  Continued discussion of the flood reduction possibilities will be held at upcoming board meetings and other public meetings.

The board also accepted the terms of amendment 7 to the Eastern Nebraska Water Resources Assessment (ENWRA) Interlocal Cooperative Agreement.  This project is sponsored by 6 NRDs, along with other cooperating agencies including the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, Conservation and Survey Division, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska, and the U.S. Geological Survey.  “The ENWRA project is a progressive step forward in the way we approach groundwater management,” said, Brian Bruckner, LENRD assistant manager.  He added, “This project offers an opportunity to stay ahead of potential future problems by joining together and pooling resources.  By continuing with this agreement, we hope to avoid the pitfalls of overdevelopment and improper management as well as provide lasting benefits to our mutual economic and environmental interests.”

The Interlocal Cooperative Agreement for the Lower Platte River Basin Water Management Coalition was also accepted by the board.  The seven NRDs in the Lower Platte Basin along with the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources have signed the agreement to adopt, implement, and maintain a basin-wide water management plan.  Bruckner said, “The plan focuses on water use policies and practices that contribute to the protection of existing surface water and groundwater uses while allowing for future water development.  The agreement is intended to provide flexibility for NRDs in the basin to work cooperatively in ways they would not be able to individually.”

In other action, the board approved two motions to accept the bids to purchase mowers for the Maskenthine Lake and the Maple Creek Recreation Areas.

The next LENRD committee of the whole meeting will be held Thursday, April 14, at 7 p.m. with the board meeting to follow on Thursday, April 28, at 7:30 p.m.  Watch for further updates and stay connected with the LENRD by subscribing to their monthly emails at