Water

  • Todd_NE
    Participant
    Posts: 701
    #1310241

    I’m just curious about what the readers of this forum think about water policy in this state.

    I grew up in Hastings and Republican City, my father had a house in Taylor Manor at the Harlan. I come from a family where both sides have farmed since the 1880’s, the Consbruck’s near Roseland and the Arneson’s near Red Cloud.

    As a youngster I was fascinated with the rise and fall of Harlan and the irrigation my in-laws managed, some gate/trench and some pivot.

    When my mother remarried I lived on a ranch north of Smith Center, KS and south of Riverton, NE. This is very dry, arid country, more so in today’s drought conditions. The avg. rainfall is approximately 18″, where I live now in West Point it’s 32″ to give you an idea.

    Fights over water have went back forever in Nebraska. There was dam construction, neighbors diverting creeks, creeks drying up next to pivots, etc. This escalated in the 80’s, took off in the 90’s (especially after the drought of the late 80’s, early 90’s) and then SKYROCKETED in the the late 90’s into the 00’s.

    When I drive home now across Nebraska, there are virtually no running streams – this INCLUDES the Platte, Blue, Little Blue, and Republican River along with at least another 50 or so creeks with names like 32-mile, 56 mile, Assumption, etc.

    It has been reported in the Omaha World-Herald that 96% of ALL water used (pumped) in the state of Nebraska is used by irrigators. Many farmers now want the state or someone to pay them to stop irrigating on ground that should of never had irrigation! Many of these acres are under shiny new pivots! (Drive around and check, I counted 200 showroom shiny pivots on a trip to Kearney recently!)

    Some of these landowners were protecting their interests, some replacing old pivots, some setting themselves up for a future windfall if it came.

    Now ethanol is seen by many as a boom, the “boom” requires even more water when using corn! (Come on cellulose)

    Kansas is not going to let us off the hook either.

    There are no answers that don’t cost money or political capital. But I hope that other sportsmen take the time to become informed, attend meetings, write and visit representatives and get involved.

    I welcome any thoughts or ideas. I wish I had better ones, unfortunately our politicians like to take a pic with a fish or pheasant once a year and spend the rest of the year pandering the farm vote.

    I still have hope for the Spear T lawsuit regarding surface irrigators rights (pumpkin creek lawsuit).

    Todd

    eyebuster
    Participant
    Duluth
    Posts: 1025
    #470298

    I am not from Nebraska but these things are interesting. I guess I did not know it was this big of a problem. Thought that was just limited to the colorado river and other streams outwest. These can be some real heated arguments hope everything gets resolved.

    zachary fries
    Participant
    Central Nebraska
    Posts: 1435
    #470334

    I am still a young man at only 27 but I remember when I was younger living on the dairy farm, we would go out to the ditch where the was standing and sometimes running water, and catch tadpoles and get absolutley covered in mud from head to toe. That was in the Loup basin and though the Loup is still one of the better flowing rivers in the state today, the water level in the valley has fell dramaticly. And remember that the Loup is all ground water!!!
    I am the son of a farmer and the son-in-law of a large farmer who just sold water rights to an ethonol plant. I really hope that farmers are not going to be the ones that get the short end of the stick but I think that is what it is going to come to if we don’t come out of this drought soon!!!!!
    Who would have thought in 1995 that we would be short on water today?? Hopefully the good Lord is listening!!!!!!

    Ben Garver
    Participant
    Hickman, Nebraska
    Posts: 3149
    #470366

    This is such a touchy topic and we are in a very ugly situation right now. No matter what decisions are made someone somewhere feels they are getting the shaft. This spring it looked like there was a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel as snow fall in the mountains was above normal for the first time in 6 or 7 years. Some decisions were made and then in the blink of an eye the snow stopped falling and it didn’t take long to be way below the average snow pack for the season. Water was alocated and we didn’t even have the snow for it yet. Now it sounds like more record low reservoir levels will be beat this year. We wonder what we’ll do when there is no water!!! Well we might not be too far away from that happening.
    As for tapping the aquifer for our water, well that can’t last too long either. So many people think that you can’t hurt the ground water situation. I think those people are wrong!!! The Republican River valley is a good example of killing the ground water levels. There has been very little water if any for the farmers to pull out of the river the last few years. There were areas in that valley that recieved 6+ inches of rain during one storm. This is usually enough to cause some flash flooding. The gound water is so low down there that 20 – 30 miles down river there was barely a trickle that made it that far the next day.
    It’s very possible that this is only the beginning of this drought. In the next few years if we should see the Loup Rivers dry up the entire state of Nebraska could be in huge trouble. The states three largest cities, Omaha, Lincoln, and Memorial Stadium all get there water from the Platte River near Ashland. The water that is in the Platte at Ashland right now is all from the Loup Rivers. Our crisis may only be starting!!!

    jd318
    Participant
    NE Nebraska
    Posts: 757
    #470515

    I’ve seen so many new pivots/irrigation systems go up the last 1-2 years, it’s crazy. For a while, about dry field around had one laying on the ground waiting for the dealer to get there to put it up.

    I’m hoping we’re just in a dry cycle that will reverse sometime soon.

    JD

    Todd_NE
    Participant
    Posts: 701
    #470534

    Thanks for the comments guys.

    I don’t think there is anything like a “wet cycle” that can be sustained anymore. The dry cycle may be what we see, we could be on the short side of the bell curve, but it’s still a bell curve.

    Another thing to consider is that our streams and reservoirs are caked with silt and growth. By that I mean if Lake McConaughy (Example) held 10 billion gallons in 1965, it would only hold 5 billion?? gallons today (I don’t know the numbers).

    EVEN IF we get another wet cycle (1992/93 was a 1/100 yr occurrence) it won’t last. We don’t have the storage, it would be irrigated as fast as possible, and streams couldn’t run it off properly anyway.

    It seems so far away, but name a local creek that holds bullhead and creek chubs, they used to be everywhere!

    Usually it’s about the money. In this case. Money is crops, agriculture. That’s not a bad thing. But at this rate, it’s not a SUSTAINABLE thing.

    Lincoln Office /State Capitol:
    Office of the Governor – Dave Heineman
    P.O. Box 94848
    Lincoln, NE 68509-4848

    http://www.unicam.state.ne.us/senators/senators.htm
    these are the current state senators, many are out due to term limits now.

    Todd

    zachary fries
    Participant
    Central Nebraska
    Posts: 1435
    #470567

    That is what you get jd318 when you tell guys that they have one year to drill whatever wells they want to before they get shut off and are not allowed to drill more. Guys went out into plain old pastures and sunk well just in case someday down the road they may want to water the piece. And you know what, if I was a farmer in these days and times, I would have done the same thing. Ben is 100% correct on the Loup. If that thing starts to look like the Platte we are in BIG TROUBLE!!!!!!!

    jd318
    Participant
    NE Nebraska
    Posts: 757
    #470752

    Zach,
    I understand why they’re putting them in, and I agree with you…I’d probably do the same thing. If nothing else, just to maintain the value of the ground. If you have the only unirrigated parcel around, I imagine it won’t be worth as much.

    zachary fries
    Participant
    Central Nebraska
    Posts: 1435
    #471063

    That is exactly correct. Water is a VALUABLE COMMODITY!!!

    zachary fries
    Participant
    Central Nebraska
    Posts: 1435
    #471647

    What has anybody heard about the irrigation district making comments about the possibility of little to no release form Mac next year??

    Ben Garver
    Participant
    Hickman, Nebraska
    Posts: 3149
    #471656

    I think they just said it to keep people from getting to excited about the new record low we are facing this year.

    kooty
    Keymaster
    1 hour 15 mins to the Pond
    Posts: 18101
    #471884

    I thought SD had water problems. I guess they do, they just don’t have any to fight over. Although they have had more rain in the month of August than they did all summer. I’m trying to get my hands on some pics of Lake Oahe to show how far down the levels are on the Missouri.

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