On January 21, 2014, Nebraska State Senator Bill Avery, introduced a bill (LB1005), which would create a board to govern the use of surface and groundwater. Currently, surface water is controlled by the State’s Department of Natural Resources while groundwater is regulated by 23 Natural Resource Districts (NRDs).
Recognizing a direct connection between surface water and ground water, Avery believes one board would provide a consistent regulation over the state’s water resources. The bill would create the Surface Water and Ground Water Review Board to review and approve all ground and surface water uses, water well permits and water management activities.
The various NRDs are skeptical that one board of 10 volunteers can handle all of Nebraska’s water issues including “summarizing yearly water usage on more than 8.5 million irrigated acres and assessing consumptive use, water supply and regional and local aquifer trends.” Nate Jenkins of the Upper Republican NRD, questioned “whether a board of 10 volunteers, presumably people who also have busy careers, would have the time to adequately address all of these tasks.” Via Lincoln Journal Star.
Sen. Avery is confident one board to rule all water issues will be more efficient and consistent. Sitting on top of the nation’s largest aquifer, Nebraska’s regulation of its water resources is important for the entire country.