My Side of the Fencepost

Important water hearings

By Jim Dickerson

Four very important public hearings are coming up in Central and Eastern Nebraska during February and March. The Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will use these hearings to explain its “fully appropriated” designation handed down last December for the entire Lower Platte River Basin.

The designation includes the Elkhorn and Loup Basins. If the designation is made permanent, it will bring new water restrictions to most of Central and Northeast Nebraska.

DNR will be accepting written and oral testimony about the river basins and its preliminary ruling. The four hearings are scheduled as follows:

  • Friday, Feb. 13, 2009 at 1:30 p.m. at the Lower Loup Natural Resources District Office, 2620 Airport Drive, Ord.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009 at 1:30 p.m. at the Learning Center of Northeast Nebraska Community College, Norfolk.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2009 at 1:30 p.m. in Room A on the Lower Level of the State Office Building, 301 Centennial Mall South, Lincoln.
  • Thursday, March 12, 2009 at 1:30 p.m. in the Fremont City Auditorium, 925 North Broad Street, Fremont.


Many people would agree that we need to protect both our ground and surface water supplies in Nebraska. Most would accept the “hydrological connection” between ground water and surface water.

But there are some points of contention, and it would be good to hear those points discussed in a public hearing.

For example, one point was brought forward by Butch Koehlmoos, general manager of the Lower Loup NRD, when the designation was announced in December.

His contention: Since the fully appropriated status was determined by DNR using gauges on the Platte River, it appears that the Loup and Elkhorn Basins may be tied in (perhaps unfairly) with the upper Platte River, which is already over-appropriated.

In consideration of the fully appropriated designation, are flows from the Loup and Elkhorn Rivers being used to “make up the difference” from the over-appropriated basins upstream?