Water Resource Management: Local Control and Local Solutions
Nebraska is fortunate to sit atop the Ogallala aquifer, one of the largest unconfined aquifers in the world. This natural resource provides drinking water for most of the state and has enabled Nebraska to lead the country as the #1 irrigated state, helping to sustain agriculture as the states leading industry. Managing and protecting this resource is the responsibility of Nebraska’s unique local Natural Resources Districts (NRDs). While NRDs have maintained groundwater levels near pre-development levels, competing uses and variable supplies have placed additional management requirements on locally elected policy makers.
Students will learn the concepts of how water is managed in Nebraska, and how the local Natural Resources District system works to address integrated water management challenges. Key topics will include:
Understand the ability of Natural Resources Districts to implement local policy and local management to protect water users;
Understand administrative structures and processes for managing water uses and supplies;
Understand ground and surface water hydrology and connectivity;
Understand the economic, social and environmental impacts of projects and policy decisions.
Objective 1. Knowledge of water quality impacts such as agriculture practices, urban development, nitrates, toxic algae, etc. Objective 2. Understand the indicators of water health, including physical, chemical and biological properties and its role in the hydrological system.
Resources: Please note the page numbers for # 9 1. Conservation Implications of Climate Change: Soil Erosion and Runoff from Cropland (4 pages) 2. The nitrate contamination concern (6 pages) 3. Soil Characteristics that influence nitrogen and water management (6 pages) 4. NET News: Nitrates a costly, persistent problem for small towns (2 pages) 5. Drinking Water: Nitrate-Nitrogen (4 pages) 6. Fact Sheet: Precautions and Facts Regarding Harmful Algal Blooms (2 pages) 7. Here’s how Midwest Farmers are fighting agricultural water pollution (4 pages) 8. University of Nebraska Lincoln Urban Nonpoint Source Pollution (2 pages) 9. Groundwater and Surface Water: A Single Resource. USGS Circular 1139 - pages 61-66 and 77
Objective 1. Knowledge of water quantity impacts such as agriculture practices, urban development, groundwater levels Objective 2. Understanding of stream gauges and groundwater maps.
Resources: Please note the page numbers for # 4 1. Impacts of urbanization on hydrological and water dynamics, and urban water management. (18 pages) 2. Protecting Water Quality from Urban Runoff (2 pages) 3. Water Administration, Streamgaging (1 page) 4. Groundwater and Surface Water: A Single Resource. USGS Circular 1139 - pages VI, 9-21, 33-60, 67-71 & 76 5. EPA Water Monitoring & Assessment, Stream Flow (2 pages)
Objective 1. Understand the importance of moving toward sustainable practices to protect water quality and quantity. Objective 2. Understand best management practices that improve water quality and quantity such as improved agriculture practices, urban planning and water efficiency. Objective 3. Understand the role of technology: flow meters, observation wells, Airborne Electromagnetic (AEM) surveys, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) (drones, GIS, etc.), precision agriculture, etc.
Resources: 1. North Platte Natural Resource District Flow Meters (2 pages) 2. Use of Five Nitrogen Source and Placement Systems for Improved Nitrogen Management of Irrigated Corn (3 pages) 3. NebGuide: Planning Your Riparian Buffer: Design and Plant Selection (4 pages) 4. NebGuide: Landscape Plants for Wildlife (4 pages) 5. Overview of NWQI EQIP Programs (1 page)
Objective1. Knowledge of various conservation agencies including Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts, and how partners work together for conservation success. Objective 2. Understanding Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts structure and what makes it unique from other conservation districts in the U.S.
Resources: 1. Water Management in Nebraska (3 pages) 2. NACD: About Districts (2 pages) 3. Nebraska’s Unique NRD system key to addressing groundwater quality (2 pages)
Objective 1. Describe the social, economic and political impacts of regulating water quality and quantity. Objective 2. Understand the delicate balance behind decision making – funding projects, social responsibility, regulatory authority.
Resources: 1. Groundwater Fundamentals (3 pages) 2. Understanding social and economic influences on natural resource management (5 pages)
Nebraska is excited to bring nearly 500 students, volunteers and advisors to the cornhusker state for the 2020 NCF-Envirothon
Thank you to our Key Partners and to all of our Supporters... NJ Association of Conservation Districts • NJ Conservation District Employees Association • NJ Department of Agriculture / NJ State Soil Conservation Committee • NJ Department of Environmental Protection • NJ Soil Conservation Districts • PSE&G • Rutgers Cooperative Extension • USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service