Lower Niobrara NRD Groundwater Management

The Lower Niobrara NRD has a Groundwater Management Plan and monitors both the groundwater quantity and quality across the district.  Sixty eight wells are measured each spring and fall to determine the static water level. In the fall of 2010 five of the sixty eight showed a decline, fifty nine showed an increase and four stayed the same. The 2010 measurements were 2.0 feet higher than the 2009 measurements and the four year average is a plus 3.6 feet rise. 

The District also samples irrigation wells and monitoring wells on an annual rotation for nitrate nitrogen levels in the groundwater.  Because of this testing the district has moved several areas into the Phase II Groundwater Quality Management Areas (see map below). Phase II areas have more restrictions and require crop reporting forms which are to be completed annually by the producer. The district can also test for nitrates and bacteria on samples brought to the district office. 

The district also received an Environmental Trust Fund Grant to install flowmeters on high capacity wells. These flowmeters will assist the district to gain a better understanding of the groundwater used for irrigation. 

•  1986 – A Groundwater Management Plan was approved by the State of Nebraska.
•  1995 – The Groundwater Management Plan was amended as required by law.
•  1996 – Groundwater Quality Management Area implemented.
•  2003 – Groundwater Plan was amended by board and approved by State of Nebraska.
•  2004 – A Phase II Area was implemented in north central Holt County with high nitrate levels.
•  2006 – The second Phase II Area was implemented in areas with high nitrate levels in northwestern Holt County and western Boyd County.
• 2007 – On October 17th portions of the Lower Niobrara Basin were determined fully appropriated.
•  2008 – Preliminary determination by DNR, Lower Platte Basin was fully appropriated.
•  2009 – The Lower Platte River Basin fully appropriated determination was reversed by DNR. Rules and Regulations were approved to limit irrigation growth to 2500 acres per year for 4 years in the areas which are within the Lower Platte Basin in the district. 

The District will be working on an Integrated Management Plan to manage water resources. Certification of irrigated acres has been completed in the Niobrara designation. We will continue to sample nitrate levels, measure static water levels and check flowmeter readings. The Lower Niobrara NRD will continue to monitor and implement the Groundwater Management Plan Rules and Regulations as deemed necessary.

Phase II Groundwater Management Areas

Phase II Crop Reporting Form- Click Here

Phase II Reporting Form Guidelines 

  • The crop report form is required on all fields over 40 acres that were cropland.  This includes corn, soybeans, edible beans, alfalfa, triticale, etc. 
  • Dryland and irrigated cropland fields over 40 acres require a crop report.
  • Soil sampling is required on fields over 40 acres if 50 lbs/ac/yr of nitrogen was applied to the field.  Minimum sample depth is 24 inches. A soil sample will consist of 8 cores representing 80 acres.
  • Nitrogen Management certification is required.  The NRD will be holding classes this winter.  The LNNRD also approved a take home test for recertification.  The Lower Niobrara NRD accepts Nitrogen Management certification from neighboring NRDs.  Water analysis is required in the Phase II Areas, but is not a requirement for Nitrogen Management certification.  If you have land in other NRDs, they may have specific requirements.  Please contact that NRD to be sure you are meeting their requirements.
  • Nitrate water analysis from irrigation wells is required once every 4 years.  The LNNRD office tests for nitrate at no cost.
  • Animal waste must be properly applied and accounted for in total crop needs assessment.
  • Fill out applicable information that pertains to each field.
  • Forms are due December 31 each year. 
  • The NRD has the authority to enforce these rules and regulations.