NRDs Promote National Groundwater Awareness Week

(Lincoln, NE) – Water is vital to life. Farmers, ranchers, city residents, industries, recreationists, livestock, and wildlife all depend on Nebraska's most precious natural resource (water). Generally Nebraska's water is abundant and clean, thanks largely to the High Plains Aquifer. Though it is plentiful and usable, Nebraska's water is neither infinite nor immune from pollution. Irrigators, cities and villages, industries and wildlife all compete for the resource. Contamination may come from sediment, farming chemicals, urban runoff and industrial sources.

The 16th annual Groundwater Awareness Week will take place March 9-15, 2014. This is a time to remind the public about groundwater and its importance to public health, quality of living, the environment and economic sustainability. Over 85% of Nebraskans' drinking water comes from groundwater. Nebraska's Natural Resources Districts have active groundwater management plans to protect groundwater quantity and quality for generations to come.

High nitrate levels in groundwater are a problem for many Nebraska communities and rural residents. The NRDs, through state statutes, have been charged with managing groundwater in Nebraska. NRDs encourage stewardship by providing financial assistance to landowners for irrigation water management and best-management practices to protect water. Where voluntary measures are not effective to reduce contamination, the NRDs are tasked with invoking regulatory controls such as fertilizer limitations. Fortunately, because NRDs and producers have worked together on groundwater protection, these regulations have been somewhat limited.

"Since 1988 our district has seen a decrease in average nitrate concentration in groundwater," said Lyndon Vogt, general manager of the Central Platte NRD. "During that same time period crop yields have generally increased. Farmers have taken appropriate measures to reduce the nitrate impacts because they value the importance of being stewards of the land and value the importance of clean water," said Vogt.

The NARD, the trade association for Nebraska's 23 natural resources districts, works with individual NRDs to protect lives, protect property and protect the future of Nebraska's natural resources. These districts are unique to Nebraska. NRDs are local government entities with broad responsibilities to protect our natural resources. Nebraska's major river basins form the boundaries of the 23 NRDs, enabling districts to respond best to local conservation and resource management needs. To learn more about groundwater and ways to protect it, visit the NARD website at or the National Groundwater Awareness Week website at

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