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nerain_logoThe Nebraska Rainfall Assessment and Information Network (NeRAIN) collects rainfall information all across Nebraska. Click logo to see rain reports.

The network needs volunteers to collect and report rainfall amounts. To participate, e-mail NeRAIN Coordinator Tyler Sanders or call him at (308) 254-2377.

Many SPNRD projects and programs are made possible thanks to Nebraska Environmental Trust grants. To learn more about NET's comittment to Nebraska's natural resources, click here.

The South Platte NRD Board of Directors is a group of locally elected officials managing area natural resources on your behalf. The board meets the second Tuesday of each month and welcomes your input.

The next scheduled board meeting is:
Tuesday, April 14
6:00 p.m. at the District Office, 551 Parkland Dr. in Sidney.
Click here to see board agendas and minutes.


barrier_cdThe SPNRD recently posted a video on YouTube, offering potential solutions to help landowners and tree professionals relieve fabric girdling in conservation tree plantings. To access the video, use the link:

Special Meeting - SPNRD and Sidney City Council Joint Meeting

The SPNRD Board of Directors and the Sidney City Council will hold a joing meeting on Tuesday, April 14 beginning at 5 p.m. at the SPNRD Conference Room to discuss the East Sidney Watershed Project.
Click to see the agenda.

The SPNRD Board of Director's regular monthly meeting will follow the joint
meeting at 6:00 p.m. or 15 minutes following the end of the joint meeting.

                                                           Public Notices

The meetings of the various boards, committees and advisory groups performing their functions on behalf of the South Platte Natural Resources District are meetings where business is discussed in open session, except where provided by state law. The District Board of Directors encourages members of the public to attend such meetings and provide input as to the management of natural resources in the southern Panhandle.

To see meeting notices, click here.

The District has two scholarship opportunities for students wishing to attend one of two camps focusing on natural resources education this summer. For more information, click here.

Final Seat Filled On SPNRD Board

The South Platte NRD board is full again following the appointment to fill the vacancy left by former Subdistrict 6 Director Tom Biggs, who retired at the end of 2014. No one filed for the seat in the November election, setting up the need for an appointed director.

Kathy Narjes
Kathy Narjes

Two candidates, Randy Horst of Gurley and Kathy Narjes of rural Lodgepole applied for the position. Each was interviewed during the District’s February board meeting, outlining their qualifications and reasons for their application. Following the interviews a written ballot and subsequent roll call vote was taken to see who would be the nominee.

Narjes, who takes part in a farm and ranch operation with her husband Phil and also serves as a part-time legal assistant, was chosen to fill the seat. Her appointment is until the next election in two years, at which time she can run to continue her term. (Click here to read more.)

Hearing Set For Proposed Changes To Rules & Regulations

The District has scheduled a public hearing on updates to the Districtwide Ground Water Management Area Rules and Regulations. The hearing will be Tuesday, March 10 at 6:30 p.m., or 15 minutes following the end of an information session. The information session is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.

Most of the changes proposed are those incorporating new rules and fees related to the Nebraska Chemigation Act.

Click the corresponsing link to see the related documents in:
               A redline copy showing changes                   A clean copy with changes incorporated

Board Begins Year With A New Member

The South Platte Natural Resources District board of directors began the year by welcoming a new member into its fold, while choosing Keith Rexroth to continue his role as chairman.

Phil Grabowski
Phil Grabowski

Phil Grabowski of rural Sidney joined the board after being elected last November, replacing long-time board member Paul Hutchison, who retired at the end of his term last year. Grabowski is a farmer and rancher and will represent NRD Subdistrict 4, covering southwest Cheyenne county including a portion of southwest Sidney.

Grabowski was sworn in just prior to the board meeting, along with Jim Johnson of Dix, who was re-elected to serve Subdistrict 2, covering eastern Kimball County and part of western Cheyenne County. (Click here to read more.)

South Platte NRD Honors Retiring Members

Tom Biggs, Paul Hutchison

The South Platte Natural Resources District board of directors closed out its final meeting of 2014 by bidding farewell to a pair of retiring long term members.

Directors Paul Hutchison and Tom Biggs attended their last meeting as part of a board that established most of the District’s water management rules and regulations during their tenures.

Both were board members when LB 962, the Nebraska Ground Water Management and Protection Act, was passed by the Nebraska Legislature. The resulting Districtwide Ground Water Management Area Rules and Regulations and the District’s Integrated Management Plan that serve as the backbone of the District’s ground water management were major achievements. (Click here to read more.)

Land Use Approval Provide Learning Opportunity

At their November meeting the South Platte Natural Resources District board of directors approved the use of a half-acre plot at Oliver Reservoir Recreation Area for an outreach program to be undertaken by the Mile High Pheasants Forever chapter.

The program includes participation by Kimball elementary students, who will help plant pollinators while learning about their importance in nature. (Click here to read more.)

Runners Support Oliver Reservoir With 5K

More than 80 runners and walkers turned out Saturday, June 21 to participate in the Oliver Reservoir 5K, with all proceeds going to support the Reservoir’s operation and upkeep.

Organizer Kelleigh Huff said the event, which included the 5K run and a one-mile walk, came about after she began seeking a way to get involved with the community. (Click here to read more.)

District Partipates In Aquifer Recharge Project

Working together, the South Platte Natural Resources District (SPNRD), Twin Platte Natural Resources RechargeDistrict (TPNRD), Western Irrigation District, and landowners in Keith and Deuel Counties are taking advantage of the excess flows in the South Platte River.  These entities are working together to turn high flows in the South Platte River into ground water recharge.

The goal of this project is to capture the excess water, or amount of water that is not already permitted for downstream uses, and recharge it into the ground water aquifer instead of just letting it flow by unused. (Click here to read more.)

Board Receives 2013 Water Usage Report

Corn and small grains take up the largest percentage of acres under irrigation in the South Platte NRD, according to the District’s Water Usage Report, presented to the board of directors at their regular monthly meeting in June.

Corn accounted for 49.6 percent of irrigated crops in 2013, with small grains at 21.1 percent according to the report, presented by the District’s Water Resources Coordinator Travis Glanz. (Click here to read more.)

Sidney High School Takes Second At Nebraska State Envirothon

Sidney High School represented the Panhandle in fine fashion this past weekend after taking second place at the Nebraska State Envirothon. The contest was held at the Crane Trust Nature and VisitorEnvirothon Center on Saturday May 3, 2014.

Student teams, consisting of five members, first competed in one of six regional contests around the state. The winners of each region and the next eight overall highest scoring wildcard teams had the opportunity to compete at the state competition. Sidney qualified by winning the West Region Envirothon in February. (Click here to read more.)

Oliver Reservoir Activity Gets Big Boost With Snowmelt Runoff

Assistant Manager Galen Wittrock recently provided the board of directors with a review of the scope of activities being performed by the Oliver Reservoir Advisory Committee (ORAC), which has provided ideas and local input on the recreation area west of Kimball since the District took over management recently.

Wittrock told the board volunteer interest has risen over the past few weeks, more so since snow melt brought the reservoir’s water level back to capacity March 4-6.

At the end of February up to 17 inches of snow fell across the area upstream of the Reservoir. Snow melt from those areas began running into the Lodgepole Creek drainage the afternoon and evening of Tuesday March 4 and by Thursday had nearly filled the lake. Lake capacity went from a record low 432 acre feet (about 17% of capacity) to full conservation pool storage capacity of 2,680 acre feet by Friday.

Oliver Comp1 Oliver Comp2

Armstrong, Diemoz Appointed to Monitoring Committee

At its March board meeting the South Platte Natural resources District board of directors appointed two Kimball County residents to fill open positions on a local monitoring committee.

Dennis Armstrong, of rural Bushnell and Steve Diemoz of rural Kimball, join the team that monitorsoperations at Clean Harbors Environmental Services, Inc., a hazardous waste incinerator site located south of Kimball.

Armstrong Diemoz
Armstrong Diemoz

The Committee holds regular meetings where it receives reports from the plant manager, safety manager and its own consultant. Monitoring systems reviewed include the facility’s waste analysis plan, ash samples, air samples, soil samples, leachate, sludge and leak water, groundwater samples from 150 and 180 feet, and storm water.

The Committee also provides input to the regulatory agencies when Clean Harbors wants to change or renew permits.

Other CMC members from Kimball include Larry Stahla, chair, Peggy Sanders and Greg Robinson. SPNRD board member Jim Johnson and General Manager Rod Horn are also on the committee.

SPNRD, Kimball Volunteers Team To Care For Oliver Reservoir


Community volunteers recently built a portable boat ramp, which can be moved according to water levels at Oliver Reservoir.  Volunteer labor and donated materials made the ramp possible as the community pulled together to perform a number of maintenance, repair and improvement tasks.

Seeing that Oliver Reservoir remains a viable recreation area has become a greater priority for the South Platte Natural Resources District due to changes the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission had to make in its management plan.

Since last spring, District officials have been meeting with interested parties from the Kimball area. The meetings, which eventually resulted in the formation of the Oliver Reservoir Advisory Committee, were originally to gauge local interest and hopes for the lake.

The District has held ownership of Oliver Reservoir since the late 1970s after the original owners, the Kimball Irrigation District, dissolved. The property was turned into a flood control/recreation lake and the dam rebuilt with funding from local contributions and a number of agencies. (Click here to read more.)

Drought Damaged Tree
Some trees, like this one, should recover with a little extra care.

Tree Health A Concern Following Drought

Across the region, tree health, or rather mortality, has been an increasing concern for landowners. Hundreds of trees, primarily in conservation plantings and windbreaks, have died following unusually extreme hot and dry conditions last summer.

“Our area has always provided more than its share of challenges to tree health,” says Galen Wittrock, the District’s assistant manager and tree program coordinator. “With our high ph, low rain fall amounts and wide temperature variations, trees are under stress a lot of the time.”

But few years saw the lasting effects of 2012, which quickly built into a long, hot period with little relief for plants. In our area, rainfall during the growing season was just less than seven inches, far less than the 17-inch average. (Click here to read more.)

Joint Authority Formed To Manage East Sidney Drainage Issues

The District and the City of Sidney have been holding joint meetings for several months, working toward the development of options to alleviate problems caused by excessive drainage in southeast Sidney.

The entities have formed the Joint East Sidney Watershed Authority (JESWA) to manage a joint effort to reduce runoff and associated problems from the drainage area.

For a number of years, large rains have been a problem as development continues, changing runoff patterns. Flooding that has the potential to carry contaminants and silt, as well as resulting erosion, has prompted the effort for controlling the runoff. (Click here to read more.)


New Practices Add Beauty, Function and Protection to Landscape

The District has added two new practices to cost share programs focusing on solutions for urban homeowners. The new programs focus on protecting ground water and program coordinator Ryan Reisdorff says each provides a singular advantage. Click here to read more.

                      Irrigator Management Requirements Relaxed For South Platte Valley

Irrigators in southeast Deuel County will have fewer management requirements to abide by beginning in 2013, following a change approved by the South Platte NRD board of directors at its February meeting.

The change results from lower nitrate/nitrogen levels found through the District’s monitoring program, which showed that for the third consecutive year, nitrate/nitrogen averaged below 8 parts-per-million (ppm) in the South Platte Valley Ground Water Quality Management Area. Click here to read more.

UNL Drought Managment Website Provides Information

UNL_Drought2012 will be a year we all remember due to the drought related hardships for many families, communities, farms and ranches.  The history of drought in Nebraska as well as the forecasts suggest this drought may not be a single year event.

UNL Extension has a faculty team assisting Nebraskans with many difficult decisions resulting from drought such as alternative feed supplies, managing higher food costs, and reducing water use in agriculture and urban green space.

To see the information UNL has developed for management in drought, click here.

NRD Sponsored Project Focuses On ET

The District has been part of a project funded in conjunction with the Upper Niobrara White and North Platte NRDs and the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources.

The ETgage® is a tool that can be used to mimic evapotranspiration (ET) rates and this information can be utilized for irrigation management. The online ETgage tool gives collaborators an easy-to-use tool for recording readings. This online tool also provides quick, easy access to readings from a specific location.

Gary Stone, from the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center at Scottsbluff, presented year-two numbers from a three-year Panhandle-wide study on evapotranspiration (ET) and use of atmometers to measure crop water use. Click here to see more about the ET Project. See a PDF of the Project Report.

Also from the Research and Extension Center, Stone and Dr. Gary Hergert provided a short introduction to a new Excel-based program, Water Optimizer, developed by the University.

The program comes from studies done in deficit irrigation to assist agricultural producers determine potential crops, populations, water needs and other factors when full irrigation is not possible.

The University and Panhandle NRDs plan to work together on meetings that will showcase Water Optimizer, display its capabilities and help producers learn how to use it as a management tool. For more information on Water Optimizer, click here.

Helicopter Scans Provide New Look At Geology -- Report Available

When the first Helicopter Electromagnetic (HEM) system took flight over the South Platte NRD in June of 2008, it was a relatively new concept in exploring Nebraska’s water formations. Test flights had been performed in the eastern part of the state, but in the west, with widely varying formations at vastly different depths – capabilities were still an unknown.

A number of flights, both contracted and flown as free demonstrations of companies’ capabilities, have traversed parts of the District.
For more on the project background, click here.

The Final Report is available in PDF form.

Changes To Districtwide Rules and Regulations Include Allocation Adjustments

Allocations of ground water used for irrigation changed in some areas beginning in the 2013 growing season following a change in the South Platte Natural Resources District’s (SPNRD) rules and regulations.

The District board of directors voted to make the changes following months of review and meetings, including a public hearing.  (Click here to read more)

Director Subdistricts Change Due To Population Shifts

Changes to South Platte NRD Director Subdistricts will have constituents in some areas represented by different directors.

The changes are a result of realignments due to population shifts, documented by the 2010 census. By law, representative subdistricts can have no more than a 10 percent variation between the most and least populated areas. The optimum target is a 1:1 ratio.

Cheyenne County, mostly the Sidney area, grew from 2000 to 2010, while populations in Kimball and Deuel County declined. The population shift resulted in a 34 percent variance between SPNRD Subdistrict 5, which covers southeast Sidney and Cheyenne County,  and Subdistrict 2, the east side if Kimball and Kimball County and a sliver of western Cheyenne County.

The biggest change in bringing subdistricts’ representative population into alignment was to move the Subdistrict 2 eastern boundary. Previously, Potter had been split between Subdistricts 2 and 4, but now lies wholly within Subdistrict 2.

Most other changes made to balance subdistrict populations were made with slight shifts within Kimball and Sidney. With the realignments, the variance between the largest and smallest subdistricts is seven percent.

Directors and their subdistricts are: SubDistrict 1 – Bill Halligan of Bushnell; Subdistrict 2 – James Johnson of Dix; Subdistrict 3 – Timothy Maas of rural Potter; Subdistrict 4 – Paul Hutchison of rural Sidney; Subdistrict 5 – Kieth Rexroth of Sidney; Subdistrict 6 – Tom Biggs of rural Sidney; and Subdistrict 7 – Larry Rutt of rural Chappell. (Click here to see the new subdistrict map)

NARD Conservation Tree Booklet Updated

To further assist you with your conservation tree purchase, the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) and Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) has published the popular and widely distributed Conservation Trees for Nebraska booklet. In it, tree species are represented with excellent color photos (tree aspect and foliageTree Book close ups). Descriptions of the tree’s notable features, disease vulnerabilities, and vegetative growing zone information are also included. The 58 page booklet also contains information on weed barrier and control, drip systems, and reference maps to all 23 NRDs and Nebraska Forest Service Districts.

Many species are included in the edition, including as Black Hills Spruce, Southwestern White Pine, Harbin Pear, Northern Catalpa, Pecan, American Hazelnut and many more. A total of 47 species are featured. The booklet also features a quick reference table to all species described within.

Planted properly in appropriate locations, conservation trees protect newborn calves, protect soils, save water, save energy, and provide habitat for wildlife.

Booklets are available at your NRD Office, your nearest NRCS Field Office and UNL Extension offices in Chappell, Kimball and Sidney. It is also available online at The booklet is also available as an app for both Apple and Android smart phones. Links are on the nrdtrees site.


Click image to see full report

Board Looks At Economic Impact

Among the tools used by the South Platte Natural Resources District board of directorsis a report outlining possible affects of District actions on the area’s economy.

The report, entitled “The Economic Impact of the South Platte NRD’s Integrated Management Plan and Districtwide Ground Water Management Area Rules and Regulations,” was commissioned by the District to see what affects its regulations might have.


SPNRD Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan In Effect

The District-led Multijurisdicational Hazard Mitigation Plan is now in effect, opening the door to participating entities which have needs protecting residents in the event of natural disasters.

Under the Disaster Management Act of 2000, local entities are required to form a Hazard Mitigation Plan to take action before a disaster occurs to reduce or eliminate threats. (Click here to read more)

Program Provides Options To Preserve Area’s Grassland Cover

With the potential expiration of contracts protecting more than 260,000 acres of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land in the Panhandle by 2013, Panhandle natural resources districts and the Natural Resources Conservation Service have teamed together to preserve regional grassland cover. (Click here to read more)

WANTED: Local weather watchers for NeRAIN

Volunteers are needed in Cheyenne, Deuel and Kimball counties to volunteer for a special project for studying the complex patterns of rain, hail and snow in Nebraska.

NeRAIN, (the Nebraska Rainfall Assessment and Information Network) is looking for volunteers – preferably with Internet access -- willing to report measurements of precipitation using high quality backyard rain gauges. (Click here to read more)

Citizens' Group Monitors Environmental Impact

In keeping with its mission to protect and manage natural recources, one activity the District is involved with is the Citizen’s Monitoring Committee (CMC) at Kimball.

The local group, established by the South Platte NRD and the Kimball community, monitors the environmental impact of operations at Clean Harbors Environmental Services, Inc. (CHESI). (Click here to read more)