Natural Resources, School of


First Advisor

Jessica Corman

Date of this Version

Winter 12-1-2022


Poetzl, A. M. (2022). The North Platte River Valley: the intersectionality between water quality and people [Master's thesis, The University of Nebraska - Lincoln]. Digital Commons @ University of Nebraska - Lincoln.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Natural Resource Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professor Jessica Corman. Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 2022

Copyright © 2022 Anni M. Poetzl


The North Platte River (NPR) Valley of western Nebraska is a semi-arid watershed with row crop production, livestock production, and urban land use activity and has a population of diverse stakeholders. These land use activities contribute to the enrichment of surface waters, such as streams, which can affect human and ecosystem health, as well as economic development and recreational activities. The project objectives are to: (1) quantify the movement of dissolved inorganic nutrients from the land within the NPR Valley to the NPR via tributaries and canals, (2) identify spatiotemporal variability of nutrient limitation of periphyton growth within the NPR, and (3) explore the factors that are associated with the adoption of a web-based water quality monitoring tool. To address the first two objectives, I collected water samples and discharge measurements from canals, tributaries (streams leading back into the NPR), and the NPR from the Wyoming–Nebraska border every three weeks from June–September 2021; and I performed repeated nutrient limitation bioassays every three weeks at nine sites. I found that land use within the NPR Valley contributes to nutrient enrichment of the NPR and the subsequent export of nutrients downstream. Based on the lack of response of periphyton to the nutrient bioassays, it is likely that the nutrients coming from the watershed meet periphyton growth demands, except, perhaps, during the end of the growing season when some nutrient limitation of growth was detected. To meet the third objective, I created a survey tool to understand how attitudes, norms, and beliefs (latent variables) affect the use of a web-based water quality monitoring tool. Performance expectancy was the only significant predictor of behavioral intention for water users to use a web-based water quality monitoring tool. From a management perspective, these studies emphasize the need for better management of nutrient exports from the NPR Valley, but the incorporation of functional goals into the deployment of potential water quality tools to ensure high behavioral intention to use the tool.

Advisor: Jessica Corman