Natural Resources, School of



Mark E. Burbach

Document Type


Date of this Version



The Heartland Regional Water Coordination Initiative, September 2011.


In 1998, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) listed Holmes Lake, in Lincoln, NE on the Clean Water Act, Section 303(d) list of impaired and threatened waters. Holmes Lake was listed as impaired due to aquatic life use impairments.

Experts from various agencies worked together to form a Technical Advisory Committee to work closely with a Watershed Advisory Council of local citizens and stakeholders. Technical experts explained the water impairments and possible remedies to citizens. The Watershed Advisory Council then helped to prioritize actions. The lake was drained in 2003. In 2004, sediment was excavated, the shoreline was stabilized, and a wetland developed. The lake was re-filled with water in 2005.

Research has shown that improving an impaired waterbody must go beyond scientific and technical knowledge to include citizen involvement and establish the expectation that citizens have a responsibility to protect their local watershed (Morton, 2011). Watershed management can be most effective by integrating local knowledge with the knowledge of technical experts (Wortmann, Helmers, Gelder, et al., 2008). Therefore, to involve local stakeholders in the development of solutions, the NDEQ implemented a new approach to watershed management, Community Based Planning (CBP). The CBP process yields a higher “potential for success” (LBBNRD, 2005).

In 2009, researchers at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln and Iowa State University developed a survey to evaluate the CBP process and investigate whether or not this method is an effective management approach for impaired watersheds. Although citizens have increasingly been involved in watershed management, the outcomes of citizen participation has not been systematically studied (Morton, 2011).