Lower Elkhorn NRD's Focus: Protecting Natural Resources for Future Generation

Lower Elkhorn NRD's Focus: Protecting Natural Resources for Future Generation


NORFOLK, Nebraska – High levels of nitrate in our groundwater pose challenges for our future.  One of the responsibilities of the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) is the development, management, utilization, and conservation of groundwater.

At the LENRD’s April board meeting, the members heard a report on visualizing and assessing nitrogen contamination in northeast Nebraska.  The report was given by Jordan Shields, PhD student in the University of Nebraska Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department.  The purpose of his project is to leverage existing tools and data to improve scientific understanding of nitrate contamination in the Lower Elkhorn NRD by focusing his research efforts on data digitization and incorporation of data into models, maps, and graphs.

“We appreciate the research that Jordan is doing and look forward to working with him on this project," said LENRD Assistant Manager Brian Bruckner. "This report was the first of several updates that will be given by Jordan, with each update providing a view of the project as new information is integrated into the database.”

The LENRD recently launched a website, bringing to light the concerns that are plaguing northeast Nebraska. Visit to find out more about the rising levels of nitrate across the LENRD’s 15-county district and the steps that are being taken to address the environmental and health issues associated with this problem.

Also during the meeting, the board approved the Urban Recreation Area Development and Urban Conservation Program applications for 2021.  The communities and schools receiving grant funding this year include: Carroll, Concord, Emerson, Hadar, Madison, Pierce, Randolph, Wakefield, Woodland Park, Uehling, and Norfolk Public Schools.

“We look forward to partnering with these communities to complete their urban recreation and conservation projects," said LENRD Projects Manager Curt Becker. "If you have a project in need of funding, keep this program in mind for next year.  Application packets are mailed out in January throughout our 15-county district.”

The board reviewed a bid to update the electrical panels at the campground at Maskenthine Lake, north of Stanton. This electrical improvement was delayed from last year due to the parts not being available during the pandemic. The bid from JP Electric of Dodge was approved and the work will be completed this summer.

The LENRD recently opened their Maskenthine Lake and Maple Creek Recreation Areas to online reservations. Reservations can be made 30 days in advance of arrival at

“We’re excited to try the online reservation system," said LENRD Recreation Area Superintendent Leonard Boryca. "It will be beneficial for those traveling from a distance or wanting to book something in advance. There will still be a few sites available at each park as first-come, first-served.”

In other action the board authorized staff to issue notices of violation to farm owners or operators who are out of compliance with the Phase 2 and 3 Groundwater Management Area reporting requirements in Pierce and Madison Counties. 

“These notifications will only be utilized as necessary, and will not curtail the proactive measures of district staff to work cooperatively with producers to get the reports completed," said LENRD General Manager Mike Sousek.

To learn more about the 12 responsibilities of Nebraska’s NRDs and how your local district can work with you and your community to protect your natural resources, visit and sign up for our monthly emails. The next board of directors meeting will be Thursday, May 27, at the LENRD office in Norfolk at 7:30 p.m.