New Wilber Dam Protects Town after Record-Breaking Rain and 500-Year Flood

New Wilber Dam Protects Town after Record-Breaking Rain and 500-Year Flood


(Beatrice, NE) The Lower Big Blue Natural Resources District has determined a new dam it recently completed is a key contributor in protecting the town of Wilber, Nebraska from record-breaking rains Wednesday night and early Thursday morning of May 6th and 7th.

The Lower Big Blue Natural Resources District built the dam two years ago to protect the community of nearly 2,000 people from major flooding events. Last week's estimated 500 year event is the dam's largest event to test the structure. The NRD evaluated the dam and determined it to have been a success.
"The new Wilber dam operated as designed," said Scott Sobotka, Assistant Manager of Lower Big Blue Natural Resources District. "We're proud to protect people's lives and property."

Without the Wilber dam in place, LBBNRD reports the rain would have flooded Wilber by dumping 1,000 cubic feet per second worth of water at the peak of the storm. This is equivalent to dropping a football field worth of rain water, one foot deep, every minute.

"The timely completion of this dam avoided a real disaster in town (Wilber)," said Randy Pryor, UNL Extension Educator in Wilber. "Without this dam, Wilber would have seen flooding we've never seen before. It would have surprised people in the middle of the night and businesses downtown would have suffered major water damage."

Last week's massive rain event is just one example of why the Natural Resources Districts need to keep building and upgrading flood prevention structures.

"The Wilber dam helped quite a bit," said Scott Havel, Wilber Volunteer Fire Department Chief. "We didn't really have any major problems in town because of it. We appreciate what the Natural Resources Districts do."

The Lower Big Blue Natural Resources District has built more than two dozen dams around the district to protect multiple properties, towns, and ultimately, protect people's lives since 1984. An estimate for how much damage was prevented by the NRD's work is still being calculated and won't be available for several days. However, the Lower Big Blue Natural Resources District estimates the dams in its district saved millions of dollars' worth of damage.

A second Wilber dam built in the 1970's also worked appropriately during and after the storm.

For Immediate Release
May 11, 2015

Contact: Erika Hill, Public Relations Director
Phone: (402) 471-7672 Cell: (402) 570-2283
Email: ehill [at]

The Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD), the trade association for Nebraska's 23 natural resources districts, works with individual NRDs to protect lives, protect property, and protect the future of Nebraska's natural resources. These districts are unique to Nebraska. NRD's are local government entities with broad responsibilities to protect our natural resources. Major Nebraska river basins form the boundaries of the 23 NRDs, enabling districts to respond best to local conservation and resource management needs. To learn more about Nebraska's NRDs visit Or you can head to the Natural Resources Districts' Facebook page at or follow NARD's Twitter page at @nebnrd. NARD is located at 601 S. 12th St. Suite 201, Lincoln, Nebraska 68508. Email NARD at nard [at] or call NARD at (402) 471-7670.