Central Platte NRD Flood Design Projects Update

Central Platte NRD Flood Design Projects Update


GRAND ISLAND, Nebraska – John Petersen, JEO Project Manager, gave updates on the Elm/Turkey Creek and Lower Wood River watershed design plans at the Central Platte Natural Resources District’s (NRD) Board of Directors meeting on Thursday. In 2021, Central Platte NRD received Watershed Flood Prevention & Operations (WFPO) grant funding from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to complete watershed and flood prevention operations plans for the watersheds. The grant funds 100% of the cost to complete the plans. The initial two-year planning process is to identify projects, such as berms, dams, channel cleanout, bridge and culvert improvements, and by-pass channels that will reduce flood damages and protect lives and infrastructure.

Petersen reported that the Elm-Turkey Creeks Watershed Improvement Project is at 60% design completion. The project area covers just over 106,000 acres of drainage including the entire Elm Creek Watershed to its confluence with Buffalo Creek south of the Village of Elm Creek and the entire Turkey Creek Watershed flowing north of the Village of Elm Creek, past Odessa, and through the City of Kearney. Petersen said there is economically feasible project that would benefit the Elm Creek portion of the watershed, however, the Turkey Creek portion has potential alternatives such as tripling the size of the current diversion west of Odessa and constructing a new diversion channel west of Kearney. In July 2022, the draft plan (90% design completion) will be sent to NRCS for approval. Once the Environmental Assessment is approved, the NRD will decide if it is in the public’s best interest to work with NRCS and other funding agencies to move into design and construction phases.

The Lower Wood River Improvement Project is located along the Wood River downstream of Riverdale to the confluence with the Platte River and is focusing on benefiting agricultural areas and the communities of Gibbon, Shelton, Wood River and Alda. Petersen said the first alternative is a diversion west of Gibbon that would move flood water four miles to the Platte River and protect an estimated 15,000 agricultural acres and the cities of Gibbon, Shelton and Wood River during high flood events. The cost is estimated at $80-$100 million. Petersen said the second alternative is a levee system that would outline Gibbon and Wood River to protect homes and town infrastructure; however, this option does not provide much protection for agricultural lands. The cost to build the levees is estimated at $40-$60 million.

Petersen said since both alternatives would have construction costs over $25 million, Congressional approval would be required to develop Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to outline the impact of the proposed projects on the surrounding environment. The CPNRD Board approved sending an official request to the NRCS for additional funds and an extension to complete the Environmental Impact Statement.


  • Summit Carbon Easement  The Board approved an easement with Summit Carbon Solutions to construct a pipeline across NRD property in Merrick County for the Midwest Carbon Express Project. CPNRD will receive $17,277 for the easement that encompasses 2.625 acres.
  • Platte Valley Industrial Park Amendment #1  The Board approved a change to the Platte Valley Industrial Park Agreement to allow Hall County's portion of the project to change from in-kind contributions to utilizing funds in the amount of $289,517.54 from the American Recovery Plan Act.
  • Water Quality & Quantity Violations  Luke Zakrzewski, GIS Image Analyst, reported that he expects the 50 producers who received irrigation violation letters to resolve their compliance issues for the NRD’s Groundwater Management Rules and Regulations. He also gave an update on two Cease and Desist orders issued to Richard Urban, Polk County, and Chad Robison, Dawson County, for the 2021 irrigation season violations. Urban has contacted the NRD and set a plan for compliance and Robison has resolved his violation.
    • Tricia Dudley, Water Quality Specialist, gave an update on letters mailed to producers who have not submitted annual crop report forms, permits and/or water and deep soil sample results. Of the 162 letters mailed, 53 have not resolved their violations. The board approved issuing Cease and Desist orders to the 53 producers who are out of compliance and the landowners will also be notified of the violation. The CPNRD has over 850 producers in Phase II/III areas who are required to submit the annual reports.
  • Lexington Patriot Park & Pond  The Board approved an application submitted by the City of Lexington for the proposed Lexington Patriot Park and Pond. The 1.4-acre groundwater fed community pond and municipal park would feature an ADA accessible warm water fishery, a walking trail surrounded by native prairie pollinator habitat and an urban forest. In May, the Programs Committee will begin reviewing and consider changes to the ranking priorities for the Urban Conservation Cost Share Program.
  • College Scholarships  Michael Steele of Ravenna, Mitchell Miller of Kearney, and Ty Swanson of Wood River were approved to receive a CPNRD-Ron Bishop Memorial College Scholarship in the amount of $1,000 per student for the 2022-2023 school year. To be eligible, applicants must be a college junior, college senior, or 5th+ year student seeking a natural resources degree.
  • Manager’s Report  Lyndon Vogt, General Manager, provided the following report to the board:
    • South Platte River Compact Coalition:  The Appropriations Committee recommended a $53.5 million transfer from the Cash Reserve Fund to the Perkins County Canal Project Fund within the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources. The canal proposal is included in LB 1015 which was passed by the legislature and approved by Governor Ricketts.
    • Educational Center/CPNRD Office: The agreement to move forward with the next two phases of the building (Schematic Design and Design Development) is in progress. The contract was for $189,000.
    • Burn Crew Contract: Scholl Fire was the contractor hired to assist with spring burns this year. It was difficult to get burn permits and very few days were appropriate for burning. The crew did a substantial amount of work preparing for burns this fall and next spring, as well as cleaning debris from some of the CPNRD flood reduction projects.
    • Burn Plan Writer:  Nelson Winkel was hired to assist with writing burn plans for the CPNRD, NRCS and Rainwater Basin Joint Venture. He will start July 5, 2022. This is a grant-funded position in which CPNRD will pay up to 10% of the salary and benefits. Nelson will be located in the CPNRD office.
    • Intern: Ty Swanson was hired as a summer intern. He has an associate degree in Agriculture and plans to return to college this fall to pursue his bachelor’s degree. Ty is from Wood River.
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service  Janelle Taubenheim, Resource Conservationist, reported on the Kearney office. Taubenheim is currently working on a Forest Stand Improvement Project to reduce Buckthorn stands in the area. Buckthorn is detrimental to the health of woodlands, prairies, wetlands and parks because is takes over large areas destroying wildlife habitat and food sources and out- competes other important native plants that we need for a stable, healthy ecosystem.
    • Joe Krolikowski, District Conservationist, provided a written report stating that the FY2023 Local Working Group recently had their annual meeting.  The Local Working Group recommends to the NRCS State Conservationist how conservation programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) would be used most effectively in their area by evaluating and prioritizing the resource concerns through their Natural Resources District. These recommendations can include special target areas, cost share rates, which conservation practices should have cost assistance, or how many dollars could be needed.  This work group allows local input into how Federal dollars are spent in their area and across the state.
  • 2023 Proposed Budgets  The Eastern Projects, Western Projects, Programs, Water Quality and Water Utilization committees reviewed proposed budgets for the 2023 fiscal year and forwarded them to the Budget Committee.
  • Cost-Share  Two applications through the Nebraska Soil and Water Conservation and the Central Platte NRD cost-share programs were approved for a soil moisture sensor and well decommissioning in the amount of $2,750.00.
  • June Board Meeting  The Board approved moving their monthly June Board meeting to June 30th to accommodate board and staff members attending the Groundwater Management District Association Conference.