May 25 Board Meeting

May 19, 2023

Thursday, May 25, 2023
1:45 p.m. Public Hearing  |  2:00 p.m. Board Meeting
Central Platte NRD Office  215 Kaufman Ave. Grand Island NE 68803

Central Platte NRD Board Approves Groundwater Management Plan
The Central Platte Natural Resources District’s (CPNRD) Board of Directors approved updates to both the water quantity and water quality portions of the CPNRD Groundwater Management Plan on Thursday at their May meeting. The Plan will become effective on July 1, 2023. A full text of the rewritten plan is available at or can be requested by calling (308) 385-6282. Substantial changes include:
1) Water Quantity Phase I trigger will change to a range of 0-25% of the Maximum Acceptable Decline (MAD). Phase II would apply to any area with declines greater than 25% of the MAD. Phase III would be changed to 50% decline in water levels relative to the MADs. If water levels in a given GWMA continued to decline and reached 75% of the MAD, the GWMA would be at a Phase IV level. A Phase V designation would be implemented if that MAD is 100% reached or exceeded.

2) The preferred option for groundwater quantity management controls related to each phase is measuring devices and a limit on the volume of groundwater pumped. Phase I has no additional management requirements. Phase II remains as is with limitations on transfers and supplemental wells. When the Phase III trigger is reached, measurement devices will be required on all active irrigation wells in the GWMA, and the owner or operator of every active well will be required to report annual water usage to the CPNRD. At the Phase IV trigger, CPNRD would allocate groundwater use to prevent the GWMA from reaching the MAD. If the initial allocation is insufficient to prevent reaching the MAD, and that MAD is reached or exceeded, this would trigger a Phase V designation, requiring a reduction of the allocation.

3) Ground Water Management Areas 7 and 9 were subdivided due to differences in irrigation development that have occurred across those GWMAs.

4) Water Quality Phase III trigger will be lowered to 10.1 ppm nitrate. Phase I remains 0-7.5 ppm, Phase II will be 7.6 to 10.0 ppm and Phase III will be 10.1 ppm and above. Phase IV remains an area where nitrate concentrations are not decreasing.

-Search Committee  The Search Committee reported that they interviewed Todd Arends to fill the vacancy in Sub-District 8, previously held by LeRoy Arends of Grand Island. Arends passed away in March and had been a director on the Board since 2005. Todd Arends, LeRoy’s son, was selected and appointed to complete the remainder of the term that ends in December 2024.

-Spring Groundwater Levels  Luke Zakrzewski, GIS Image Analyst, reported that the spring 2023 static groundwater levels showed declines in all 24 Ground Water Management Areas within the CPNRD compared to groundwater levels in 1982. The 1982 levels were established as the standard for the NRD’s Groundwater Management Plan with maximum acceptable declines and a margin of safety calculated for each of the District’s 24 Ground Water Management Areas (GWMA). Zakrzewski said 376 wells, four wells per township, were included in the assessment. From 1982 to 2023 the CPNRD has an accumulated loss of -1.30 feet since 1982. Four of the GWMAs (2, 16, 17, 18) triggered below 25% decline. (See map). Three GWMA continue to show declines and are under additional management restrictions including:
– GWMA 9 is down 1.18 ft. from the previous year (-9.06 ft. to -10.24 ft).
– GWMA 16 is down 3.26 ft. from previous year (-2.17 ft. to -5.43 ft.).
– GWMA 20 down 2.15 ft. from previous year (-4.78 ft. to -6.93 ft.).

-Wood River Watershed  John Petersen, PE, JEO Consulting Group, gave a presentation on alternatives to the Wood River Watershed Flood Risk Reduction Plan since the project was officially upgraded to an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in February 2023 to better understand flooding impacts and potential solutions within the Lower Wood River Watershed, including expanding the work area to include the Upper Wood River sub-basin. The expanded plan requires governmental reviews as part of the (EIS) process and the updated planning process will run through early 2024.

The Wood River Watershed Plan studies the entire watershed with the focus on reducing flood risk in the area between Kearney and Grand Island. Potential projects include but are not limited to diversion channels, channel and ditch widening, levees or berms, and roadway modifications. At the town of Wood River, the Wood River has an incised channel with high banks. This interferes with rainfall naturally draining overland into the river. Rain falling between the river and Highway 30 through town cannot naturally drain to the river and creates excess stormwater ponding. In large flood events, water that escapes Wood River cannot easily re-enter the channel as water levels recede. Instead, water flows east approximately three miles northeast of town, flooding the business district of Wood River along Highway 30.

JEO reviewed potential alternatives with the Board including performing field work including wetland delineations, geotechnical investigations, and archaeological surveys to further analyze potential alternatives and locations. Petersen said the draft plan will be completed by September 2023. Once the plan has been finalized, project design can begin on the proposed alternative, starting possibly late 2024 through 2026 if pursued. Construction would start following the design phase.

-Variance/Appeals Committee The Board denied a variance request from a producer in Custer County.

-Manager’s Report  Lyndon Vogt, General Manager, provided the following updates:

  • Water Quality Violations: Tricia Dudley, Water Quality Specialist, mailed out 53 letters of intent to file cease and desist orders. All but 19 are now in compliance with the CPNRD Nitrogen Management Program.
  • NARD Basin Tour: CPNRD will host the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) basin tour this year from June 12-13 starting in Kearney. The tour will include viewing potential Watershed & Flood Prevention Operations (WFPO) projects, past and current flood control projects, site of the potential new office location and CPNRD’s crane viewing decks. Other sites will include the Outdoor Learning Area at the Nebraska State Fair location as well as the Bayer Water Utilization Center, Cozad Ditch Company headgates, and the Thirty Mile Irrigation District/CPNRD office.
  • Nebraska Research District Agronomist A draft statement of work from the USDA Scientists was received that will provide 50% cost share for an Agronomist position through UNL for three years. The focus will be on crop production, nitrogen loss, and 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, Demonstration Project Coordinator, and directly with CPNRD producers that have above-average residual nitrate results.
  • Grant Opportunities The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) has two grant opportunities coming available in the next few months that CPNRD plans to pursue. One is to develop a new meter program and find up to 100 sites to track actual pumping and crop data for another 10 years to help refine our modeling efforts. NDNR would also be a partner in this opportunity. The second opportunity would assist with 50-60% of the cost of increasing the efficiency of the three surface water irrigation districts CPNRD has partnerships with in Dawson County. NeDNR would be a partner in this project as well. CPNRD is also working with the Rain Water Basin Joint Venture on a USDA Conservation Collaboration Grant that would fund an Integrated Water Programs Coordinator to promote and assist in voluntary enrollment in Farm Bill Conservation Programs. The position would be shared with Tri-Basin NRD.
  • Nebraska Well Drillers The Nebraska Well Drillers Association selected CPNRD’s application for a free monitoring well in a public location for educational purposes. The well will be drilled on October 3, 2023, at the Outdoor Learning Area located on the Nebraska State Fairgrounds. CPNRD plans to install telemetry on the monitoring well to show real-time static water level data on CPNRD’s website ( as well as water quality data.

-Irrigation Violation Report  Luke Zakrzewski, GIS Image Analyst, reported that 45 of the 56 producers who received cease and desist orders are now in compliance with the Groundwater Management Program, and he expects the remaining 11 producers to complete their paperwork in the near future.

-Natural Resources Conservation Service  Joe Krolikowski, District Conservationist, provided a summary of activities and current happenings at the Natural Resources Conservation Service within CPNRD.

  • NRCS staff are nearing completion of the contract development and obligation process for the FY 2023 Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds. Approximately 110 applications were received and met the eligibility criteria for ranking. Krolikowski said a request for additional second-round EQIP funds was made, but no additional funds were received this year.
  • Conservation Stewardship Program (CStP): FY2023 classic applications have been ranked. The obligation deadline for all FY2023 CStP classic applications is July 14, 2023. The competition for these funds continues to be extremely high with approximately 681 applications across the state and only 125 contracts preapproved. The total dollars obligated for those 125 contracts will be around $12,000,000.
  • Pathways Internship Program: Approximately 14 interns will be hired across the state. There will not be any students in the four CPNRD offices this summer.

-2024 FY Budget  The Budget Committee reviewed proposed budget items for the 2024 fiscal year.

-Cost-Share  Five applications were approved for burn preparation, center pivot incentive, flow meters, and well decommissioning through the Nebraska Soil and Water Conservation and the Central Platte NRD
cost-share programs in the amount of $19,177.85.

-Upcoming Board Meetings  June 29, July 27, August 31