Date of this Version
LB1003, establishing the Nebraska Water Policy Task Force, was signed by Governor Johanns on April 12, 2002. The task force was established to consider (1) changes to LB108, the law dealing with Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Natural Resources District (NRD) regulations to deal with conflicts between surface water users and groundwater users, and (2) authorizing the buying and selling of water rights, including water leasing and water banking. The task force was initially designed to consider changes in Nebraska water law necessary to allow Nebraska to meet its responsibilities to help protect Platte River endangered species under the July 1, 1997 Platte River cooperative agreement. Emerging conflicts between surface water irrigators and groundwater irrigators on Pumpkin Creek in the North Platte Valley near Bridgeport resulted in an expansion of the task force’s charge to include those issues as well. The task force must report to the Governor and Unicameral this month. Following is a summary of some of the task force’s major proposed recommendations. Information regarding the final recommendations made by the task force to the Governor on December 18, 2003 will be on the DNR’s website, http://www.dnr.state.ne.us/. Major recommendations address (1) integrated management of ground and surface water, (2) water rights transfers (water marketing), and (3) water funding.