Central Platte NRD Board Hears Flood Reduction Alternatives for Lower Wood River Watershed

Central Platte NRD Board Hears Flood Reduction Alternatives for Lower Wood River Watershed


GRAND ISLAND, Nebraska – John Petersen, JEO Project Manager, gave an update on the Environmental Assessment Plan for the Lower Wood River Watershed to the Central Platte Natural Resources District’s (CPNRD) Board of Directors at their monthly meeting on Thursday. The 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.

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 on two effective alternatives to reduce flooding. 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 plans would have construction costs over $25 million, Congressional approval would be required to develop Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) to outline the impact of the proposed projects on the surrounding environment. This approval may take up to 12 months. Once the Plan is approved, CPNRD will work with the NRCS and other funding agencies to move into the design and construction phases.


-Contract Amendment   The board approved a contract amendment in the amount of $13,000 with Olsson for additional work on the NRD’s Groundwater Management Plan (GMP). The contract also extends the completion date to March 1, 2022. In 2019, Olsson was selected to update the Plan in the amount of $102,000 to incorporate a substantial amount of new data and insight acquired and developed since 1985. Over the last 35 years, rules and regulations have changed significantly and groundwater management goals have evolved.

Olsson is evaluating current plan triggers, updated data sets and maps, and has run over 200 scenarios with the Cooperative Hydrology Study model (COHYST) and the Groundwater Evaluation Toolkit (GET) to predict what may happen with future management options. A major change to the Plan would allow the NRD to require meters in areas with continual groundwater decline instead of reducing irrigated acres.

-Board Officer Nominating Committee  The Nominating Committee announced their recommendations for the upcoming election. Marvion Reichert, Elm Creek, was nominated for board secretary and Keith Ostermeier, Grand Island, for board treasurer. Officers may serve two, two-year terms. Deb VanMatre, Gibbon, has served two full terms and is not eligible for re-election as secretary. Ostermeier has served one term and is eligible for re-election as treasurer.

-Managers Report  Lyndon Vogt, General Manager, reported that the NRD has no pending litigation concerning the water quality program.  Mike Munsterman and Richard Urban were ordered by the court to come into compliance but have not completed compliance as of this time.

The CPNRD’s Water Programs Update will be held at the Crane trust office at the I-80 Alda exit on February 8, 2022. Those interested in attending may call the NRD office at (308) 385-6282 to RSVP.  Vogt also reported that Morgan Wrich has taken a position with Dawson County Extension, therefore, CPNRD is currently advertising for a new Precision Conservation Specialist for the Gothenburg area.

-Legislative Report  Katie Zulkoski, Zulkoski-Weber Government Affairs, reported on the upcoming Legislative session and anticipated bills to be introduced in the short session. Zulkoski also reported on the shift from senators who understand and support the natural resources districts (NRDs) to new senators who aren’t familiar with the responsibilities that were established for the NRDs by the Legislature in 1972.

-Master Plan The board approved the District’s 2021-2031 Comprehensive Resources Master Plan. The Plan provides a broad framework for the efficient and orderly development and management of soil conservation and erosion control, flood prevention, control and channel rectification, drainage, groundwater and surface water supply, water quality and pollution control, fish and wildlife habitat, forestry, outdoor recreation and range within the District. The Plan is required to be updated every ten years under the Nebraska Natural Resources District Act.

-Staff Report  Shane Max, Resources Conservationist, reported that he has finished measuring static water levels and plans to start on fall maintenance and monitoring well repair. Max worked on four prescribed burns this fall and is assisting landowners to implement a new prescribed burn association in the Callaway area.

-Voting Delegates   The board elected Jay Richeson as voting delegate and Ed Kyes as alternate for the Nebraska Association of Resources District’s Legislative Conference to be held in January in Lincoln, NE.

-Prescribed Burn Video  Brody Vorderstrasse, Communications Assistant, presented a video that he produced on the NRD’s prescribed burn that took place on November 15th at the Upper Prairie/Silver/Moores Flood Risk Reduction Project in northwest Grand Island. Bill Hiatt, Resources Conservationist, coordinated the 347-acre burn to eliminate cattail and phragmites infestation.

-Natural Resources Conservation Service  Joe Krolikowski, District Conservationist, reported that Stacy Riley, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs for the State of Oklahoma, has been named as Acting State Conservationist in Nebraska. Riley will serve in this role until March 26, 2022, or until the position is permanently filled.

-Nebraska Natural Resources Commission  Mick Reynolds, Middle Platte Basin Representative, reported that  three large projects totaling $9,692,710 and eight small projects totaling $1,391,176 will receive Water Sustainability Funding in 2022. These projects are in addition to the Omaha Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Program previously approved for $1,086,503. The Commission chose to use $1.3 million of next year’s allocations to fund the large projects.

-Cost-Share   12 applications through the Nebraska Soil and Water Conservation and the Central Platte NRD cost-share programs were approved for renozzle, center pivot incentive, flow meter, tree planting and well decommissioning in the amount of $39,837.02.

-New Committee  A new committee was formed to review the number of members on the CPNRD board of directors given the 2020 Census results. When the natural resources districts were formed in 1972, each NRD was allowed to choose the number of members on their board. The Central Platte NRD selected the maximum of 21 directors, with two representatives in 10 subdistricts and one at-large member.

-Director Service Awards 
Jerry Wiese – 20 Years of Service   Jerry was elected in 2001 to replace Ron Hargens. Over the years he has served on the Eastern Projects, Programs, Water Resources and the Variance/Appeals committees. He has been the voting delegate at the NARD Legislative Conference eight times and served as Treasurer from 2007-2011. In January, Jerry was elected as Vice-Chairman of the board and currently serves on the Eastern Projects, Water Utilization, Budget and Executive committees.

Ed Kyes- 20 Years of Service  Ed was appointed to the Board in 2001 to replace Mike Royal. He has served on the Water Resources, Eastern Projects, Variance/Appeals, Executive, Integrated Management, Budget and Executive committees and served as Programs Chairman. Ed was elected Secretary of the Board in 2005, Vice-Chairman in 2009, and served as Chairman of the Board from 2013-2016.

-Director of the Year Award  Ed Kyes was presented with the Director of the Year Award from the Nebraska Association of Resources District. He was selected to receive the Director of the Year Award from NARD this year for being an active member who brings life experience and his commitment to natural resources and education to his 20 years of service. Kyes has been present and involved at every board of directors meeting for 20 years, he has perfect attendance.

Kyes has kept informed on natural resources both in Nebraska and other states. His insight into legislation is strengthened by attending NARD’s legislative conferences in Lincoln and Washington D.C.  and he educates himself on water management issues by attending NRD workshops, basin tours, and the Groundwater Management Districts Association winter and summer conferences.

Ed and his wife Marilyn are dedicated to education. As prior school bus drivers, the Kyes help with education activities hosted by Central Platte NRD. They have volunteered for the Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival as classroom guides since the NRD began hosting the event in 2005. They also represent the District by volunteering to pick up recyclables for the Clean Community Center at Husker Harvest Days and volunteer at the Nebraska State Fair. Kyes also assists with the Area 4 district range and land judging contests in his area.

-Staff Service Awards 
Lyndon Vogt, General Manager  Vogt was recognized for 25 years with the Natural Resources Districts in Nebraska. Vogt has worked in water and natural resources management since starting his Natural Resources District career in 1996.  Over the last 24 years, he has served as the NRD manager at Lower Niobrara NRD (Butte), Upper Niobrara White NRD (Chadron) and the Central Platte NRD in Grand Island. 

Vogt has served on the Nebraska Carbon Sequestration Advisory Committee and the Nebraska Riparian Vegetation Management Taskforce. He also received a national merit award from the Soil and Water Conservation Society for partnership building.  He currently serves as a Nebraska representative on the Ground Water Management Districts Association Board, co-chair of the groundwater advisory committee for the National Water Resources Association, alternate national director of the Nebraska Water Resources Association and the Groundwater Management District Association. Vogt also represents the downstream water users on the Governance Committee for the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program.

Kelly Cole – 20 Years of Service
Kelly has been employed by Central Platte since 2001. She started as a temp employee entering data for the Groundwater Management Program, chemigation and gallons per minute.  In 2004, she took over Jan Anderson’s position as Programs Coordinator managing the Conservation Tree Program and cost-share programs and assists with the Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival and Wellness Committee. Kelly began training with Dianne in 2018 and started as Administrative Assistant in 2019. She is now responsible for the NRD’s accounting, election certifications, insurance, cost-share and travel plans for the board and staff.

Angela Warner – 15 Years of Service 
Angela started as an intern in 2005 and has been the GIS Coordinator since 2006. Angie provides technical assistance in creating databases, maps and other GIS projects. She also works with landowners on certified irrigated acres and Waterbank transfers. Angie is the liaison with the county assessors and assists with water rights for the irrigation canal partnerships. She is a member of the Grand Island Groundwater Team and assists with the Outdoor Learning Area planning and maintenance. Angela and Luke also present an activity at the Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival.

Luke Zakrzewski – 10 Years of Service
Luke has been employed as the GIS Image Analyst since 2011. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Biology from UNK in 2002. His primary duties involve maintaining certified irrigated acres databases and the GIS Workshop website, working with landowners to transfer irrigated acres and determining offsets for the NRD’s Waterbank. Luke also assists with the water quality database and occasional field work including stream gauging and prescribed fires.

-Upcoming Board Meetings  January 27, February 24, March 24