Archive for the 'Nebraska' Category

Apr 23 2013

NE: Draft rules set on appropriation methods

Published by under Nebraska

The Nebraska Department of Natural Resources has released new draft rules and methods that it plans to utilize in its annual evaluation of availability of hydrologically connected water supplies. This annual evaluation is aimed at ensuring that streamflow water supplies for existing groundwater and surface water uses are protected into the future. The results of this yearly evaluation are highly valuable in supporting proactive
planning efforts conducted by the state and local natural resources districts.

These new rules and methods are aimed at providing greater clarity on the basin water supplies and water uses across the state to facilitate more effective water planning efforts.

Director Brian Dunnigan said, “These new rules and methods which have been developed over the last four years will serve to provide foundational information on Nebraska’s water supplies and uses, thus allowing for more effective coordinated planning efforts across the state.”

In an effort to address questions or comments related to the new draft rules and methods the Department has set up a sixty-day public comment period which will run through June 7th. During this public comment period, the Department will hold several public forums across the state. These forums will serve to answer questions related to the new rules and methods. These public forums will be held:

Monday, May 13, 2013
Norfolk & Valentine
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Scottsbluff & Kearney
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Beatrice
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Lincoln

The Department has also developed a web-portal to receive public comments related to the draft rules and methods. To view more information, the specific times and locations of these forums or to provide your comments on the draft rules and methods, you are
encouraged to visit the Department’s website at http://dnr.ne.gov.

Public hearings are anticipated to be held later this summer after public comments have been received with potential rules modifications to be finalized by the end of the year.

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Apr 08 2013

NE: Per state order, BuRec releases water

Published by under Nebraska

The Bureau of Reclamation is responding to the order from the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) by directing the release of more than 13,000 acre-feet (af) of water from four federally managed reservoirs. The Release Order includes releases from Swanson Lake (3,232 af), Enders Reservoir (452 af), Hugh Butler Lake (1,984 af) and Harry Strunk Lake (7,548 af), totaling approximately 13,200 af. The releases started Tuesday morning and will continue at a reasonable rate of flow so that releases are completed by April 30.

In an effort to ensure Nebraska’s compliance with the Republican River Compact, Nebraska DNR issued an order on January 1, 2013, putting in effect a Compact Call Year as defined by the current Natural Resource Districts Integrated Management Plans (IMPs). As a result, Nebraska DNR issued Closing Notices on Reclamation’s reservoirs in the Republican River Basin prohibiting the storage of surface water flows until further notice. Reclamation has been working with Nebraska DNR to assist them in offsetting the projected shortfall associated with the IMPs.

“Reclamation follows Nebraska state law as it relates to water management,” said Nebraska-Kansas Area Manager Aaron Thompson. “We are working toward releasing water in the most reasonable manner to meet the order from the Nebraska Director of Natural Resources.” Continue Reading »

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Mar 04 2013

WY/NE: North Platte runoff below average

The Bureau of Reclamation’s Wyoming Area Office has prepared snowmelt runoff forecasts for the North Platte River Basin. According to Wyoming Area Manager Coleman Smith, the Mar. 1 forecast indicates below average spring snowmelt runoff for the North Platte Basin.

April through July runoff in the North Platte Basin above Glendo Dam is expected to be 300,000 acre feet (AF) or 32 percent of the 30-year-average of 944,600 AF. Approximately 260,000 AF of runoff (35 percent of average) is expected to enter Seminoe Reservoir with an additional 20,000 AF (34 percent of average) being provided to Pathfinder Reservoir from the Sweetwater River, and the balance of 20,000 AF (15 percent of average) coming from the basin between Pathfinder Reservoir and Glendo Reservoir.

The water in storage for delivery to North Platte Project contractors as of Feb. 28, is 254,600 AF or 41 percent of average.

Smith said, “Reclamation is advising North Platte Project water users that an allocation is expected. With reservoir storage well below average and below average inflow forecasted for April through July, water users will need to take measures to conserve the available water supply.”

With the current forecast, river flows throughout the system are expected to be much less than average and below last year’s flows. Reclamation will update the inflow forecasts again in April and May.

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Dec 18 2012

NE: None of the basins over over-appropriated

Published by under Nebraska

A long-term state report in Nebraska released in December on water availability has some good news for the people in that state: By its estimates, the key water sources for the state are over-appropriated.

Its summary said that “The Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (Department) has evaluated the expected long-term availability of surface water supplies and hydrologically connected groundwater supplies of the Blue River Basins, the Lower Niobrara River Basin, and the Missouri Tributary Basins, and has concluded that none of the basins or any of the subbasins or reaches within the basins are fully appropriated at the present time. The Department did not evaluate the Lower Platte River Basin or Niobrara River Basin upstream of the Spencer Hydropower facility in this year’s evaluation pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. § 46-713(1)(a). The Department conducted an additional evaluation of the long-term water supplies with no additional constraints on groundwater and surface water development in the Blue River Basins, the Lower Niobrara River Basin, and the Missouri Tributary Basins using the best available science and methods. The results of this evaluation indicated that the preliminary determination would not change based on reasonable projections of the extent and location of future development in the basins.”

The report focused on the Blue River Basins, Lower Niobrara River Basin, and Missouri Tributary Basins. “The Department did not evaluate the Lower Platte River Basin or Niobrara River Basin upstream of the Spencer Hydropower facility in this year’s evaluation pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 46-713(1)(a) and 46-714(12)(a). However, the natural resource districts (NRDs) within these basins have developed rules limiting new irrigated acres within their respective districts and the Department has continued to limit the permitting of new appropriations for surface water irrigation within these basins (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 46-714 (12)). The Department will be required to evaluate the Lower Platte River Basin in next year’s evaluation,” it said.

The provision of regular comprehensive reports on the state of water resources in Nebraska is built into state law.

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Dec 07 2012

NE: Releasing preparations for a dry Republican River

The Nebraska Department of Natural Resources is continuing to prepare for dry
conditions in the Republican River Basin
in 2013. These continued preparations include efforts by the Department to update and refine its forecast for the Republican River Basin for the upcoming year as well as reassigning staff resources to carry out the administration that may be necessary. The preliminary forecast was released on November 16th and is available at:
http://dnr.ne.gov/NewsReleases/NRRMDAPressRelease11162012.pdf.

In addition to these preparations, Department officials recently met with officials from the United States Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) in Billings, Montana, to discuss potential impacts and measures that could be available to surface water users next year. Reclamation manages the major reservoirs that supply irrigation water within the basin. The meeting’s discussions focused on the opportunity that the Department will provide Reclamation in the upcoming year to reregulate flows in Harlan County Reservoir that would otherwise be required to pass downstream into the State of Kansas. Department Director, Brian Dunnigan said, “I have made it clear to Reclamation that they have an opportunity to develop a plan that would be beneficial to basin water users while not jeopardizing Nebraska’s ability to comply with the Compact.” Actions by Reclamation will play a key role in the need and duration of time that surface water uses would be limited next year.

The Department’s current forecast indicates that approximately 20,000 acre-feet of water will need to be put into streams by the Natural Resources Districts in the basin to prevent potential overuse of Nebraska’s allocation. The water supplies in the basin that are available to Nebraska are determined by a 1943 Interstate Compact signed by Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado. Brian Dunnigan, Director of the Department, said, “The forecast is a significant advancement over past tools that were available to the Department and basin NRDs and allows for the greatest opportunity for Nebraska to optimize its use of available water supplies.”

Should the final forecast by the Department indicate a potential shortfall next year, the next steps for the NRDs would be to develop and implement the necessary actions to limit NRD groundwater uses to their water supplies or in the alternative, curtail groundwater pumping within the rapid response area (areas near streams).

Should the final forecast by the Department indicate a potential shortfall next year, the next step for the Department would be to require the issuance of closing notices to all natural flow and storage permits in the basin. Beginning on January 1, 2013, natural flow surface water appropriations would be prohibited from diverting surface water. In addition, reservoirs would be prohibited from storing additional water. These closing notices would not prevent the release of water that has legally been stored prior to December 31, 2012. As a condition of these closing notices, all inflows would be required to be released downstream. Surface water administration would continue until conditions improved. Owners of unpermitted jurisdictional dams that do not have a permit would be required to apply for a permit and receive that permit before water may be stored. Landowners are encouraged to contact the Department if they have questions regarding permitting.

The final forecast by the Department will be completed prior to January 1, 2013.

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Nov 23 2012

NE: State issues Republican River forecast

The Nebraska Department of Natural Resources released its preliminary forecast for the Republican River Basin in November at the Nebraska Republican River Management Districts Association meeting in Imperial.

This forecast serves to notify local natural resources districts (NRDs) in the Republican River Basin when they are required to perform additional management actions due to limited water supplies. The water supplies in the basin that are available to Nebraska are determined by a 1943 Interstate Compact signed by Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado.

Brian Dunnigan, Director of the Department, said, “The forecast is a significant advancement over past tools that were available to the Department and basin NRD’s and allows for the greatest opportunity for Nebraska to optimize its use of available water supplies in the basin.”

Past non-compliance with the Interstate Compact is the subject of current litigation before the United States Supreme Court. Since that period of non-compliance (2005-2006), the Department and basin NRDs have taken significant steps to support efforts to reduce groundwater pumping and identify other management actions that are designed to ensure that Nebraska will comply with the terms of the Compact, even during dry periods.

Dunnigan said, “It is unfortunate that these dry periods require these additional actions, but I am confident that we are now well prepared to proactively address the dry conditions that the basin is currently facing.”

The final forecast by the Department will be completed prior to January 1, 2013. Should the final forecast by the Department still indicate a potential shortfall next year, the next steps for the NRDs will be to develop and implement the necessary actions to keep their individual groundwater uses limited to their individual water supplies or in the alternative curtail groundwater pumping within the rapid response area. The next steps for the Department will require the issuance of closing notices to all surface water appropriations of natural flow, including those to store additional water subsequent to January 1, 2013.
These closing notices will not prevent the release and use of water that is in storage on
December 31, 2012.

More information can be found in the presentation given at the
NRRMDA meeting
.

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Jul 17 2012

NE: State issues surface water closure

Published by under Nebraska

The current drought experienced by Nebraska has presented challenges across the state. Extraordinarily dry conditions have reduced water supplies available to irrigators and helped diminish streamflows and water levels in reservoirs. As of July 17, 2012, the Department has closed over 1100 surface water permits throughout much of the state.

Additional closing notices may be issued depending on flow conditions. The river basins affected include the Big Blue, Elkhorn, Hat Creek, Loup, Niobrara, North Platte, Republican, Salt Creek, and White.

During times of shortage, junior (newer priority) permits must be denied water so that senior (older priority) permits may receive the full amount of their permit.

Surface water distribution in Nebraska is based on the prior appropriation doctrine, which is often characterized as “first in time, first in right.” The Department of Natural Resources is the agency authorized by Nebraska statute to regulate surface water. Under Nebraska law, the Department is to assure that all water is being used to the its most beneficial use.

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Apr 01 2012

NE: Republican River chosen for WaterSMART study

Seeking options to evaluate various management opportunities within the Republican River Basin, the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, along with the States of Colorado and Kansas, submitted a proposal to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Under the Bureau’s highly competitive WaterSMART program, the Republican River Basin Study will receive a $413,000 grant to study water supplies, demands, and management options in the Republican River Basin.

The Republican River Basin Study is one of five projects that the Bureau will fund in 2012.

The Study will provide a comprehensive review of four areas central to the WaterSMART initiative: evaluation of current and potential future water supplies and water demands, analysis of existing infrastructure, analysis of water management options, and trade-off analysis of those management options. The Study includes Colorado and Kansas as it is designed as a comprehensive view of the entire basin system. When asked about the grant award, Department Director Brian Dunnigan said, “I am very excited about the collaborative water management opportunities that these types of studies present. My staff and I look forward to working closely with the Bureau, Kansas, Colorado, and other basin stakeholders to develop tools and analyses to assist in basin management.” The Study will begin immediately with project completion expected in two years.

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Sep 24 2011

CO: Bonny Lake drains to Kansas, Nebraska

Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists have begun salvaging sport fish from Bonny Reservoir in Yuma County in preparation for the draining of the lake over the next two months.

The State Engineer began releasing water from the reservoir on September 21 to satisfy a legal obligation under terms of the Republican River Compact to release all the water to Kansas and Nebraska. The result will most likely be the loss of the entire fishery.

As long as conditions allow, biologists will trap as many fish as possible and relocate sport fish to other public fishing waters. Anglers can continue to remove fish provided the shoreline remains stable and access is safe.

“Right now it looks like it might take as little as 90 days to drain the lake,” said Parks and Wildlife Area Wildlife Manager Cory Chick. “We encourage anglers to harvest as many fish as possible before the water is gone.”

Under the salvage order signed by Southeast Regional Manager Dan Prenzlow, all legal methods of fishing will be allowed including the use of trotlines, jugs and seines. Commercial angling is prohibited. There are no limits on the number or species of fish anglers can keep, but everyone must have a valid Colorado fishing license to be in possession of fish and must complete an angler survey card available at the reservoir.

Access may be closed to boats and/or anglers if the receding lake creates unstable banks or other hazards.

“I grew up hunting and fishing at Bonny Lake State Park,” Prenzlow said. “This is difficult to watch.”

Bonny Reservoir was created in 1951 when the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation built a flood control dam on the South Fork of the Republican River. Shortly after the completion of the project in 1951, the former Colorado Division of Game Fish and parks negotiated an agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation to manage fish, wildlife and recreational assets of the reservoir and the federal land around the lake.

As a result of draining Bonny, Colorado Parks and Wildlife will transition Bonny from a State Park into a State Wildlife Area beginning October 1, while simultaneously exploring other potential options with a variety of partners. Public hunting access areas will remain open to the public.

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Sep 21 2011

NE: State develops Platte River partnership

Published by under Nebraska

The Nebraska Department of Natural Resources will be partnering with the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program and the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District to construct reservoirs located in the vicinity of the Johnson No. 2 (J-2) River Return on the CNPPID canal system.

These proposed reservoirs will provide flows to the river at times when they are needed for the PRRIP target flows for threatened and endangered species. Nebraska’s interest is to offset new or expanded uses since 1997; a goal of the Platte Basin integrated management plans. Director Brian Dunnigan stated “this project has risen to the top of the project lists after years of extensive studies and shows great promise to fulfill the needs of Nebraska as well as the PRRIP and CNPPID.”

The CNPPID Board of Directors and the Governance Committee of the PRRIP have also indicated a commitment to move this project forward. Additional benefits for CNPPID include more efficient operation of the J-2 hydropower plant during the irrigation season and addressing issues associated with hydrocycling flows from CNPPID’s canal back to the Platte River. The next step for the Department is to work with the Platte Program and CNPPID to develop a formal agreement that describes the benefits and costs for each party.

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