Neb. Cities Concerned About Water Policy

Published March 29th 2005 in Press & Dakotan

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Several cities are concerned they don't have enough representation on a state water policy task force.

Among other things, the task force helped develop a water law passed last year that requires the state Department of Natural Resources to assess river basins to determine if they are fully appropriated.

Fully appropriated areas have a hold placed on new permits for surface water use, groundwater wells and new irrigated farm acres pending state and local officials implementing a new plan to manage water.

The hold includes any new wells for city use.

"We want to keep Nebraska strong as an agricultural state, but we need room for municipalities to grow," Kimball City Administrator John Boodell told the Omaha World-Herald.

Sidney's City Council approved a resolution two weeks ago calling on Gov. Dave Heineman to restructure the board by allowing proportional representation for people who live in municipalities. Kimball's City Council approved a similar resolution last week.

Tim Anderson, a spokesman for the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District, said some cities may not have completely researched the implications of the water law before it was passed and now want to protect their communities.

They have legitimate concerns, Anderson said, and the water policy task force is more than willing to talk with cities about the law.

Heineman spokesman Aaron Sanderford said the governor thinks issues raised by the cities are best resolved between the Department of Natural Resources and the League of Nebraska Municipalities.