Groundwater Quality Management Program

Groundwater Management Rules & Regulations  |  Phase Controls-Chart

 Online Reporting Form –Due March 31st       |       Irrigation/N Management Program  Certification Booklet | Test

Note: Farmers who were affected by flooding and were not able to take soil samples for the Groundwater Quality Management Program will not be required to submit samples this year.


Reminders ~

The annual report forms are due March 31st.  Irrigated acres under a cease and desist order cannot be irrigated until they are compliant with the Program. Potential penalties for violation are the possibility of a fine ranging from $1,000 -$5,000 per violation and/or a loss of irrigated acres, ineligibility for NRD cost-share, and restriction from transferring any irrigated acres. Violators may request a hearing in front of the Board within ten (10) days of receiving the certified Cease and Desist notification.

Take Water Samples!

Producers in Phase II and Phase III of Central Platte NRD’s Groundwater Quality Management areas, to take a water sample from your fields for the 2020 crop year form. Bottles to collect samples are provided by the same person you’ll take your samples to such as your fertilizer dealer, crop consultant, or lab. Your samples should be kept cool and taken immediately after being sampled.

The 36-inch deep soil samples will need to be taken either this fall after harvest or next spring before you start your fieldwork.  Required sampling is one composite sample for every 80 acres.

Central Platte NRD’s Quality Program was implemented in 1987 and is one of the longest-running in the state. The Program has helped bring nitrate levels from 19 parts per million in the 1960s down to the current 13 parts per million averaged across the district.

If you have any questions about the sampling or about the Groundwater Quality Management Program, call Tricia Dudley at (308) 385-6282 or email


Management Plan Rewrite

07/25/19  Olsson was selected to rewrite the NRD’s Groundwater Management Plan (GMP) in the amount of $102,000.  Olsson will incorporate new data and insight acquired since the approval of the plan in 1985. As mandated by the legislature in the early 1980s, the Central Platte NRD prepared a comprehensive GMP based on the hydrogeologic, climate, and socioeconomic information available at the time. Since 1985, the NRD has acquired and developed significant data and information about the groundwater resources in its district. Over the last 35 years, the rules and regulations implemented by the NRD have changed significantly and groundwater management goals have evolved. For these reasons, the NRD requested proposals to ensure that the rules and regulations currently implemented by the district are in sync with what is written in the plan. The other proposal was submitted by JEO Consulting for $149,000.


Crop Reporting Website   The Crop Reporting Website is updated with more user-friendly features! Each page of the form is now auto-saved. UNL’s recommended Nitrogen application rates are visible and adjusted as you fill out the form, so you will see the results of each application. And you’ll receive an email receipt when your form is submitted successfully.

Reports in Violation Be sure to submit your 2019 online Crop Report for the Nitrogen Management Program. Producers who do not submit forms by the November 21st NRD Board meeting, landowners will be issued a Cease & Desist Order. Phase II/III producers must file reports for all crops grown including corn, sorghum, potatoes, beans, alfalfa & all small grains. The 2019 form includes actual crop results for 2018 crop year and planning for the 2019 crop year. If you need help, contact Sandy or Tricia at (308) 385-6282 or,

Water & Soil Tests  If you are planting corn, grain sorghum, or potatoes in 2019, you must take a deep soil sample and groundwater sample for nitrogen (NO3-N) this year. These tests are required for producers in Phases II/III. Bordering NRDs may not have this requirement. If your system is no longer running, you need to turn it on and take a water sample to submit with your 2019 Crop Report due March 31, 2019.

Nitrogen Certification  N certification is valid for 4 years. Producers with certification expiring on January 1, 2019, will receive a certification test to be completed and returned to the CPNRD office. Certification from other districts is accepted and producers who attend CPNRD’s Water Programs Conference on March 12 & March 14, 2019, will not need to complete the test.

In 1987, Central Platte NRD’s Groundwater Quality Management Program was the first in the Central Platte Valley to address widespread high groundwater nitrate problems. Over the last 30 years, nitrate levels in the groundwater and vadose zones have been reduced using a long-term, common sense management approach. Until the Program was adopted, nitrate levels in some areas had increased to 19 ppm; now the current average is down to 13.3 ppm.

Changes have been made over the years. Cost-share practices that help producers reduce water and fertilizer applied have been modified to implement new practices. Reporting requirements have also evolved with the reporting form now online to save producers time and taxpayers money. Prior to the online form, CPNRD’s data compliance officer would manually enter up to 7,000 forms annually. Nearly 800 producers participate in the Program and are credited for lowering contamination levels through their management efforts. Another effective learning tool is the 400 demonstration sites located on local producers’ fields.

Although average nitrate levels have dropped 5 ppm in 30 years, there are still high nitrate areas throughout the District. The NRD will continue to work with producers to implement best management practices and regulations as needed to reach safe nitrogen levels in our groundwater.

Phase I is generally the portion of the District in which the average nitrates are from 0 to 7.5 ppm
Phase II is generally those areas that have an average nitrate concentration of 7.6 to 15 ppm
Phase III is generally those areas with an average nitrate concentration of 15.1 ppm and higher.
Phase IV: Area where nitrate levels are not declining at an acceptable rate.

Because the phases are by area, individual wells in a Phase Area may be higher or lower than the designated range of nitrate concentrations. Other factors, including proximity to a municipal water supply and vadose zone nitrates, are also used in determining the Phase Areas.

MAPS of each Phase Area:  Click “Yes” on the Disclaimer. Locate “Layers” at the top right of the page and select which map you’d like. To print maps, locate “Tools” on the top left and click the print icon.


NRDs Protecting Water Quality


Map: Regulations in each NRD  |  

Summary of the 23 NRDs Management Programs

Erosion & Sediment Control Plan

How CPNRD’s Groundwater Quality Program was Developed

Until the Central Platte NRD’s Groundwater Quality Management Program was adopted, the nitrate level in the high Nitrate area of the District had increased at a rate of about 0.5 ppm/year to 19.24 ppm. At the end of the first crop year under the program, the level dropped by 0.3 ppm and continued to drop through the 1993 crop year. Adverse weather conditions resulted in increases during the 1994 and 1995 crop years, but, a lowering of the nitrate rate occurred again after the 1996 and 1997 crop years.

In 1999, nitrate levels in the NRD’s high-nitrate area dropped from 17.41 ppm from spring 1998 to 16.62 ppm spring 1999. The drop is credited to landowners in the District using better management practices recommended by the NRD and the University of Nebraska- Lincoln. Farmers from throughout the District, with varying soils and conditions, were recruited to work with the NRD in using the best management practices to demonstrate that nitrates can be managed efficiently and effectively while maintaining crop yields. In addition, many of the tools needed by the farmers to establish best management practices, including fertilizer calibration meters, irrigation well hour meters, surge valves, vertical dam manifolds, irrigation flow meters, and reuse pits, were encouraged through the availability of cost-sharing by the District.  Research indicated that most farmers did not know how much water they were using during irrigation, so the Board decided to make mandatory the practice of monitoring well outputs in Phases II/III. A well-measuring program was adopted, and later revised, that could determine how much water is being used. Wells in Phase III must be measured by the NRD by 1998 and in Phase II by 2000.

To facilitate increased water management, the District developed its Splash program to provide one-on-one education for the producer who voluntarily participated. The producer received weekly irrigation assistance on one field and a complete evaluation of his or her irrigation system. In return, the producer is expected to share the experience with other producers and consider improved irrigation techniques. To supplement these education and cost-share funding portions of the program, the NRD adopted rules and regulations to assure that certain minimum changes would occur.