Spring Water Levels Down Slightly

The Central Platte Natural Resources District released their spring 2017 static water level results at their June board of directors meeting on June 22, 2017. The accumulated change since 1982 is 0.85 feet lower district-wide. Groundwater levels are measured annually from mid-April to mid-June. CPNRD’s Groundwater Management Plan uses 1982 static groundwater levels as the base levels. Implemented in 1987, the Plan established maximum acceptable declines and a margin of safety for each of the District’s 24 Ground Water Management Areas (GWMA).  Luke Zakrzewski, GIS image analyst, reported that 15 of the GWMAs are above the 1982 groundwater levels and the remaining nine areas are below the set standards. Zakrzewski said Dawson County had both the largest decline and the largest increase with northern Dawson and Buffalo counties (GWMA #9) down 12.15 feet, and southwest Dawson (GWMA #5) with an increase of 12.36 feet since 1982. As a proactive measure, the Plan has a trigger set that suspends supplemental wells and transfers into areas that have reached a 25 percent acceptable decline.  Merrick County has one management area (#18) with two consecutive years above the 25 percent acceptable decline trigger and will now allow new transfers of irrigated acres and supplemental wells; while the southern management area (#19) has reverted to the 25 percent acceptable decline trigger regulations.  Map Six of the 24 GWMAs are currently in the 25 percent decline suspension.  If the water table would fall to 50 percent of the maximum decline, Phase II would go into effect requiring mandatory reductions in irrigated acres and spacing limits for new irrigation wells would be established. The Central...

Hooker Bros Awarded Bid on Flood Control Project

Hooker Brothers Awarded Bid on Flood Control Project Hooker Brothers Construction Company of Grand Island was awarded the Phase II construction bid for the Upper Prairie/Silver/Moores Creek Flood Control Detention Cell Project in Hall County in the amount of $2,246,959.00. The bid was awarded at the Central Platte Natural Resources District’s board of directors meeting on Thursday, June 1, 2017. Nine bids were received to excavate 1,036,300 million cubic yards of dirt for the detention cell. Hooker Brothers had the low bid, which was $1,175,041 below the engineer’s estimate. Construction will begin in mid-July and be completed by May 1, 2018. A bid letting will be held this fall for construction of the levy to be located on Engleman Road. OTHER ACTION/AGENDA ITEMS -UNL Vadose Zone Nitrate Study  Dr. Dan Snow, director of Water Sciences Laboratory, UNL, gave a progress report on the Central Platte Natural Resources District (CPNRD) Vadose Zone Nitrate Study at CPNRD’s board of directors meeting on Thursday. Core samples were collected for vadose zone nitrate including some areas that were sampled in the 1990s. The report showed locations of the first eight core samples collected with comparison of nitrate profiles to previous time periods, and estimation of nitrate transport rates at each location. As part of this three-year vadose zone study, approximately 27 sites collected across the CPNRD between 1990 and 1996 have been digitized and are being used to compare recent profiles at these sites to determine how fast nitrate is moving and whether changing land use management has resulted in reduced loading of nitrate in the vadose zone. These sites are all being...

Changes to Title Search/Transfer Fees

Central Platte NRD Changes Title Search/Transfer Fees Policy (GRAND ISLAND, NE) – The Central Platte Natural Resources District’s (CPNRD) board made changes to how the District handles title searches and transfer fees at their monthly meeting on Thursday.  Landowners who transfer more than four certified irrigated acres (not on the same contiguous track of land), will be responsible for providing a copy of their title search to CPNRD, effective immediately. The transfer fee for the CPNRD to file transfers with the appropriate county courthouse will now be $200 for single county transfers and $250 for multi-county transfers. The previous policy required landowners to pay $325 for the District’s attorney to do a title search to gather all of the appropriate signatures and file the paperwork with the county.  The change will streamline the transfer process. In 2016, Central Platte NRD processed 160 transfers. OTHER ACTION/AGENDA ITEMS -National Envirothon  The board approved a three-year funding request for the 2020 North American Envirothon to be hosted by the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts in July of 2020.  CPNRD will contribute $8,000/year towards the event; which will showcase the success of Nebraska’s NRD system to manage resources on river basin boundaries to the top environmental science students and future leaders in North America.  Over 500 students, sponsors, and teachers from the United States and Canada are expected at the event. -UNL Agreement  The board approved a Standard Research Agreement with UNL that states that Central Platte NRD will not patent any research work performed by the CPNRD/UNL project coordinator. -Upper Prairie/Silver/Moores FCP-  Jesse Mintken, assistant manager, reported that the invitation to bid...

Cedar Invasions Threaten Nebraska Grasslands

Article reprinted from journalstar.com Eastern redcedar, commonly called “cedar” or “juniper” is a tree native to much of Nebraska. However, it has been rapidly expanding into locations and habitats where it was formerly rare or unknown. Cedar has already expanded into many areas of the Great Plains, converting vast areas of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas from productive grasslands to impenetrable forests. This rapid expansion is moving north into Nebraska. During the past decade, an average of 38,000 acres of Nebraska’s range lands and forests has been converted to cedar forest each year. Why should we care about the encroachment of this native tree into formerly cedar-free landscapes in Nebraska? The rapid spread of cedar is a serious ecological and economic threat, and addressing it poses challenges that dwarf the capacity and resources of any one agency or organization in Nebraska. Cattle production declines as much as 75 percent after grasslands are invaded by cedar. Cedars shade out grasses beneath their canopies, directly removing grass available to cattle, while also reducing grass health and species diversity. Cedar invasion also affects the ability to reduce the risk of, and suppress, wildfires. Cedar invasion reduces water availability because of its increased water use and interception compared to range grasses and forbs. Cedar may also change stream and river channels and alter flows. Scientific evidence from the southern Great Plains documents catastrophic collapses in the biodiversity and abundance of birds, small mammals and pollinators endemic to grasslands following juniper invasion. The Nebraska Conservation Roundtable recently listed cedar as a primary threat to conservation of natural resources. The increasing threat of cedar invasions is...

Crop ET Study Approved

CPNRD Approves Crop Evapotranspiration Study with UNL (GRAND ISLAND, NE) – The Central Platte Natural Resources District’s board approved an amendment with UNL in the amount of $343,259 to continue the Nebraska Water and Energy Flux Measurement, Modeling and Research Network (NEBFLUX) study at their monthly meeting on Thursday.  The Project has been measuring actual evapotranspiration rates of various vegetation surfaces by utilizing advanced techniques to measure surface energy fluxes, microclimatic variables, plant physiological parameters, soil water content, surface characteristics, and their interactions for various vegetation surfaces in the CPNRD since 2007.  The information collected is used for CPNRD’s Groundwater Management Program; which is based on crop water use, or consumptive use. This amendment extends the project through June 2020. OTHER ACTION/AGENDA ITEMS -Bioblitz Request  The board approved a request from Kearney High School (KHS) and the University of Nebraska-Kearney (UNK) in the amount of $1,000 to design and develop a wetland to be named the Kearney Outdoor Learning Area (KOLA). On April 22, 2017, KHS and UNK students will collect, analyze, and record ecosystem and natural resources data in an area south of KHS to be transformed into a wetland later this year.  The BioBlitz will allow students to establish a baseline of data by which to measure ecosystem and wildlife changes over the years. -Non-Disturbance Agreement  The board approved a non-disturbance agreement with SoCore Energy, Chicago, so that their project, located south of the Kearney Northeast Flood Control Project’s easement area, can move forward. -Contract Modification  The board approved a change order on the Upper Prairie/Silver/ Moores Flood Control Project in the amount of $344,000 to remove...

Excellent Progress-Flood Control

Excellent Progress Being Made on CPNRD’s Flood Control Project- CPNRD Board Meeting Updates The Central Platte Natural Resources District’s board saw timelapse footage of the progress being made on the Upper Prairie/Silver/Moores Flood Control Project during their February board meeting on Thursday.  Jesse Mintken, assistant manager, reported that Van Kirk Brothers Construction of Sutton, Nebraska, began construction in mid-January with excellent progress given the moderate winter.  The Project’s detention cells, located approximately five miles west of Grand Island at the Cornhusker Army Ammunition Plant, are currently under construction. The overall footprint will be 540 acres. Equipment for this major construction includes four scrapers that hold 20 cubic yards, two excavators, four dump trucks that hold 30 cubic yards, a bulldozer and a road grader.  Soil excavated from both cells will be spoiled on site. Mintken said the north detention cell, located on Airport Road, (SCLL4N-E Addition) is nearly completed.  An additional 71,500 cubic yards has been excavated to form this cell.  The southern portion of Phase I (SCLL4-S Phase I) includes approximately 815,000 cubic yards. It is located at Capital and Schauppsville.  Periodic seeding and mulching will take place to ensure that permit requirements are met and that proper erosion control measures are implemented.  The contractor expects to be completed by the end of May if the weather cooperates. Mintken said Phase II is expected to be constructed this coming summer 2017, along with a levee system located at the northwest corner of Grand Island.  The bid letting on that portion of the flood control project will take place in mid-spring. OTHER ACTION/AGENDA ITEMS -Irrigation Violations  Luke Zakrzewski, GIS...

CPNRD Provides Funds for Outdoor Classroom at Dodge Elementary

The Grand Island Independent: Thursday, February 16, 2017 8:43 pm By Robert Pore   robert.pore@theindependent.com In a ceremony on Thursday morning at Dodge Elementary School, Marcia Lee of the Central Platte Natural Resources District presented a check for $1,667 to create a monarch butterfly habitat at the school. The NRD board recently approved an application from the Grand Island Public Schools’ Success Academy for the program. The outdoor classroom will be a joint project of the Success Academy, Dodge Elementary, Skills Academy and the Roots & Shoots program. The students will use the outdoor classroom to apply the scientific method in real-world observation and data collection. Also at the event, it was announced that the GIPS Roots & Shoots clubs will host Jane Goodall, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and a United Nations messenger of peace, for a public presentation at 7 p.m. March 9 at the Grand Island Senior High auditorium. The event will be free but will require a ticket. Tickets will be available starting at 8 a.m. Feb. 21 at the GIPS Kneale Administration Building. Goodall is well-known for her nearly six decades of research on the wild chimpanzees of Gombe National Park, where she made the discovery that chimpanzees make and use tools, redefining human understanding of animals. In 1977, Goodall established the Jane Goodall Institute to advance her work around the world. In 1991, she founded Roots & Shoots, the institute’s global program that guides young people in nearly 100 countries in becoming conservation activists. She now speaks about the threats facing chimpanzees, environmental crises and her reasons for hope. In her books and...

Want to Sell or Lease Water for Next Year?

The Central Platte Natural Resources District (CPNRD) has started the pre-approval process for the Groundwater Exchange Program, which provides a way for producers to buy or sell water use for the upcoming irrigation season. During the pre-approval process, staff verifies that all participants are in compliance with CPNRD’s Rules and Regulations, document whether the participant is acting as a buyer or seller, the location and amount of water use, and whether the buyers want to purchase water for irrigation or for streamflow. Those interested in participating must be pre-approved by November 23, 2016. The online bid window for those pre-approved will be open from December 1 through December 9, 2016.  Buyers and sellers will go online to the CPNRD Exchange website with the personal ID that staff has provided to them.  Sellers will enter the amount that they would like to receive for their water use, and buyers will enter how much they are willing to pay. Central Platte NRD and the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources have partnered in the financial cost to develop an algorithm that selects the best matches based on information that each seller and buyer enters- such as the price, location of water, and the depletion to the river.  The program then generates a report of all the matched exchanges.  The NRD’s Rules and Regulations regarding the transfers of groundwater irrigated acres are built into the computer program. Bids are based on acres, consumptive use, and streamflow depletion to the Platte River. The National Economic Research Associates (NERA) is the consulting firm who developed the computer program, accepts the bids, and provides CPNRD with...

Upcoming Board Meeting

The Central Platte NRD board of directors will meet at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 27, 2017. Please check back for a preliminary agenda. June Board Action Upcoming Board Meetings: August 31: August board meeting at 1:00 p.m. & Duane Woodward’s Retirement Open House 3:30-5:50 p.m. September 28 at 2:00 p.m. October 26 at 2:00 p.m. *Board meetings are held at 2:00 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month (unless stated otherwise) at the CPNRD office located at 215 Kaufman Avenue, Grand Island NE 68803.   Contact the CPNRD staff at (308)...

Latest Board Action

UNL Presents Vadose Zone Nitrate Findings  PDF (GRAND ISLAND, NE) – Dr. Dan Snow, director of Water Sciences Laboratory, UNL, gave a progress report on the Central Platte Natural Resources District (CPNRD) Vadose Zone Nitrate Study at CPNRD’s board of directors meeting on Thursday. Core samples were collected for vadose zone nitrate including some areas that were sampled in the 1990s. The report showed locations of the first eight core samples collected with comparison of nitrate profiles to previous time periods, and estimation of nitrate transport rates at each location. As part of this three-year vadose zone study, approximately 27 sites collected across the CPNRD between 1990 and 1996 have been digitized and are being used to compare recent profiles at these sites to determine how fast nitrate is moving and whether changing land use management has resulted in reduced loading of nitrate in the vadose zone. These sites are all being used for agricultural production. The first eight sample results indicate that lowering nitrogen fertilizer amounts applied, reducing irrigation water applied, and changing land use practices at the surface may be lowering the nitrate concentrations in the vadose zone. OTHER ACTION/AGENDA ITEMS -Bid Letting The board awarded the Phase II construction bid for the Upper Prairie/Silver/ Moores Creek Flood Control Detention Cell Project in Hall County to Hooker Brothers Construction Company of Grand Island in the amount of $2,246,959.00. Nine bids were received to excavate 1,036,300 million cubic yards of dirt for the detention cell. Hooker Brothers had the low bid, which was $1,175,041 below the engineer’s estimate. Construction will begin in mid-July and be completed by May...