Lower Big Blue NRD Approves Temporary Stay, Evaluates Options

Lower Big Blue NRD Approves Temporary Stay, Evaluates Options


BEATRICE, Nebraska -- The Lower Big Blue Natural Resources District (LBBNRD) officials are proactively evaluating groundwater management options. Following the annual review of fall groundwater levels at its monthly meeting on Dec. 8, 2022, and the discovery that several wells are measuring record low static water levels, the Board of Directors took action to impose an immediate 180-day moratorium, or stay, on the construction of new wells, which includes a stay on the increase of irrigated acres in the district as well. (per Neb. Rev. Stat. § 46-707(2))

The LBBNRD collects groundwater level data from its network of monitoring wells each spring and fall for use in evaluating the sustainability of groundwater supplies. Typically, following the growing season, fall water levels are lower than those in the spring. Spring readings taken the following April are then used to assess recharge and are the data upon which any decisions are made, or controls enacted. Unfortunately, amid drought conditions and prolonged pumping, water levels in some areas of the district have reached historic lows this fall.

During the moratorium, the LBBNRD directors aim to proactively establish subareas and study the criteria of the district’s high capacity well permitting ranking calculator to manage diverse aquifer formations in the district. The District will also be finalizing certification of irrigated acres that has been required since 2014 and delineate Phase Groundwater Quantity Management Areas. Finally, the NRD intends to emerge from the districtwide temporary moratorium with a comprehensive and diverse structure for managing the use of groundwater across variable aquifer formations.

The LBBNRD welcomes public input throughout this process as it aims to sustainably manage groundwater supplies for all present and future groundwater users.