News

July 27 Board Meeting

July 14, 2023

BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETING
THURSDAY, JULY 27, 2023

PRESS RELEASE
Central Platte NRD Approves 2024 Fiscal Year Budget
The Central Platte Natural Resources District’s Board of Directors approved the 2024 budget of expenditures as advertised. Total requirements for the general fund and sinking fund are $34,955,785.23. Based on the balances on hand and estimated revenue the required property tax would be $4,826,226.75 which is up $430,764.62 from last year. Based on the property tax request on last year’s valuation plus 5%, the levy for FY 2023/2024 is estimated at 0.024511 compared to last year’s levy of 0.023440. The public hearing to set the levy will be held at 1:45 p.m. on August 31st just prior to the August Board meeting. Central Platte NRD’s Board of Directors meetings are held at 2:00 p.m. at the NRD office located at 215 Kaufman Avenue in Grand Island, Nebraska.

Additional Discussion/Action:
Canaday Solar Project  The Board approved General Manager Lyndon Vogt to work with legal counsel to develop an agreement to allow solar development as an approved use on two of CPNRD’s conservation easements. The power generated by the proposed Project will be transmitted to the electrical grid maintained by the Southwest Power Pool via Nebraska Public Power District’s (NPPD) Canaday Substation. The project will be subject to approval by the Dawson and Gosper Counties zoning process and will be sited to conform with Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Guidance for Utility-Scale Photovoltaic Solar Energy Projects.

Polk County Dams   The Board approved a change order in the amount of $7,613.45 from JEO Consulting Group for dam repairs on Clear Creek and Jones Creek in Polk County. The change order includes a cost increase due to adjustments for pressure-treated dimensional lumber stop logs and stainless-steel guide rails on Clear Creek; and additional rock riprap on the face of the dams.
Photos attached: Clear Creek | Jones Creek

Platte Valley Industrial Park   The Board approved an amendment with Olsson not to exceed $10,000 for easement acquisition and appraisal services for the Platte Valley Industrial Park. The original contract approved by CPNRD, incorporating this amendment and an amendment for historical and geotechnical engineering totals $111,700. In 2019, the CPNRD Board approved a request from the City of Grand Island and Grand Island Area Economic Development Corporation to allow water to be diverted into the south side channel of the Wood River Flood Reduction Project. The request was made to determine a plan to alleviate drainage issues at the Platte Valley Industrial Park between South Locust Street and Hwy 281.

Wood River Watershed Plan-EIS  The Board approved a new contract in the amount of $529,205.42 with JEO Consulting Group for the work completed to develop the Wood River Watershed- Environmental Assessment (EA) and to complete an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Additional data will be gathered and analyzed for the EIS. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will provide 100% reimbursement through the Watershed & Flood Operations Program (WFPO).  In 2021, a 30% milestone review meeting was held with NRCS for the Lower Wood River WFPO. It was discussed that the most affected communities included Gibbon and Wood River, while the plan area also included Shelton and Alda and exterior areas of Kearney and Grand Island. At that time, the purpose and need included the Gibbon and Wood River regions. Potential alternatives include various levee alignments for 50-year and 100-year flood protection for both regions and a high-flow diversion starting west of Gibbon south to the Platte River.

In November 2021, at the 60% milestone review meeting with NRCS, it was determined that the diversion channel could potentially be a priority to achieve the purpose, however, the planning level cost estimate exceeded the $25 million NRCS threshold for an Environmental Assessment (EA), therefore triggering the need for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Public and agency meetings will be held during the EIS-Plan design with the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, Nebraska Department of Transportation, Nebraska Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Public comment and landowner meetings will be held next summer following the completion of the design.

Manager’s Report  Lyndon Vogt, General Manager, reported on the following:
 – Groundwater Management Plan  The updated Groundwater Management Plan became effective July 1, 2023.  Staff is updating the Rules and Regulations and will provide them to the Water Utilization Committee for review in the next couple of months. 

– Water Quality Violations  Tricia Dudley mailed out 53 cease and desist orders. All but three violators are now in compliance with the Nitrogen Management Program: Joel Anderson, Ritch Blythe, Anthony Kreikemeyer.

  – Nebraska Research District Agronomist   Funds for a District Agronomist position have been transferred from USDA to UNL.  The Board will consider the agreement with UNL to advertise the position. USDA will provide 50% cost share for the Agronomist position through UNL for three years. The focus will be on crop production, nitrogen loss, ground-truthing crops and soil models developed by the USDA Adaptive Cropping Systems Lab in Beltsville, Maryland. The modeling process hopes to develop decision support tools for producers that will be realistic, readily available and simple to use. This position will also work with Dean Krull, UNL/CPNRD Demo Project Coordinator.

– Integrated Water Programs Coordinator   Andy Bishop, Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, was successful in writing a grant for a shared position between the Central Platte and Tri-Basin NRDs to assist NRCS and the NRDs in promoting USDA conservation programs. This position would promote and assist in voluntary enrollment in Farm Bill Conservation Programs.

– Irrigation Districts Update   Excess flows from the South Platte River are coming to an end.  Thirty Mile and Cozad Ditch have both diverted excess flows down the laterals. Orchard  Alfalfa replaced a smaller diversion just above their headgates to redirect low flows to their headgates.

– B1 Reservoir   Staff is currently holding meetings with the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources concerning the future use of B1 Reservoir in Lexington to determine how it may be used to retime flows back to the Platte River.  Discussions are ongoing.

Manager Contract  The Board approved a three-year contract with current General Manager Lyndon Vogt.

Natural Resources Conservation Service  Joe Krolikowski, District Conservationist, reported on two ongoing Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) agreements. The Nebraska Soil Carbon Project is a collaboration with the NRCS, Central Platte NRD, Upper Big Blue NRD, The Nature Conservancy, Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC), Cargill, Target and McDonald’s. The project has completed 3 of the 5 years of this agreement. Farmers can receive cost share for adopting cover crops, no-till, and/or diversified crop rotations. Soils are evaluated over this time for both carbon and water quality benefits and then quantified showing the results before and after implementing any of these conservation practices. Funds are available for this program.

Krolikowski also reported on the first year of applications received for the renewed Ogallala Aquifer & Platte River Recovery Project. The cost share assists to reduce water consumption by converting irrigated land to non-irrigated on a permanent or temporary basis with a focus in the over-appropriated area of the District from Gothenburg to Elm Creek and Groundwater Management Areas that are in declining status. This project is a collaboration with NRCS, Central Platte and Twin Platte NRDs. Surface and groundwater quality and quantity concerns are addressed with the implementation of improved irrigation systems and management technologies to increase irrigation efficiencies, reducing impacts on the Platte River and the local groundwater supply. Phases II/III areas of the CPNRD’s Groundwater Quality Management Program are also targeted since nitrate levels in these areas are above the recommended 10 ppm drinking water standard.

Carrie Thompson, Resource Conservationist of Lexington, reported that Dawson County’s Grassland Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) increased from 4 producers last year to 12 producers that were accepted for an approximate total of 6,500 acres. NRCS staff will meet with producers and go over grazing plans and stocking rates. Grassland CRP allows cost share for infrastructure such as livestock pipeline, tanks and cross fence. NRCS will provide technical and design support for the practices.

Nebraska Natural Resources Commission  Mick Reynolds, Middle Platte Basin Representative, reported that the Natural Resources Commission met on July 19th. The Commission had funds in the amount of $13,935,049.07 to obligate and voted to distribute funds as follows:
– 2023 CAP – $3,623,832.87 to fully fund a project approved in 2022
– Combined Sewer Overflow (Omaha) – $1,086,503.30
– Of the 14 small projects submitted ($250,000 or less), 8 projects were approved totaling $1,470,561.00
– Of the 4 large projects submitted ($250,000 or more), 2 projects were approved totaling $7,754,151.90.
The Commission approved using $1,063,452.10 of 2024 funds (if available) to finish funding one of the
large projects approved. The next Commission meeting will be held on December 6, 2023.

Cost-Share  11 applications were approved in the amount of $50,717.00 for grazing deferment, burn preparation, brush management, flow meters and center pivot incentive through the Nebraska Soil and Water Conservation and the Central Platte NRD cost-share programs.

Upcoming Events
Precision Fertigation Sunset Seminars  Central Platte NRD producers Arnie Hinkson, Wood River, and Don Batie, Lexington, will feature their research sites on precision fertigation during two Precision Fertigation Sunset Seminars. The informal and informative events are being hosted by growers who have tried N-Time™ this growing season and experienced its impact on their farms.  N-Time™ is Sentinel Fertigation’s flagship software system that analyzes field imagery to detect early signs of crop nitrogen stress and provides growers with timely fertilizer application recommendations. CPNRD offers $11/acre cost share assistance on this new sensor-based fertigation technology.
Thursday, August 3 – 7 p.m. at Wood River Community Center, Wood River NE
Thursday, August 10 – 7 p.m. at District 22 Events Center, Lexington NE
RSVP at www.sentinelfertigation.com/sunset-seminars or call Central Platte NRD (308) 385-6282.

Upcoming Board Meetings  August 31, September 28, October 26