Water is vital to life. Farmers, ranchers, city residents, industry, recreationists, livestock, and wildlife all depend on Nebraska's most precious natural resource. Generally Nebraska's water is abundant and clean. Thanks largely to the High Plains Aquifer, Nebraska has more ground water than any other state.
Above ground, the state is laced with 24,000 miles of flowing rivers and streams. Nebraska's major river basins include the Missouri, Platte, Niobrara, Loup, Republican, Elkhorn, Nemaha and Blue.
Though it is plentiful and usable, Nebraska's water is neither infinite nor immune from pollution. Irrigators, cities and villages, industries and wildlife all compete for the resource. Contamination may come from sediment, farming chemicals, urban runoff and industrial sources.
Natural resources districts have local leadership responsibilities for protecting ground water from overuse and pollution. Each district also has a plan to protect ground water. State law has given districts a variety of regulatory tools, to deal with contamination, shortages or user conflicts.
NRDs encourage stewardship by providing financial assistance to landowners for irrigation water management and best-management practices to protect water. NRDs are not just water protectors; in some cases they are providers. A number of NRDs operate water systems for rural customers and small communities.