The Natural Resources Committee of the Nebraska Legislature has begun work on an interim study to develop a plan for sustainable funding for water management. The history of the study goes back to 2004 when the legislature passed LB962, the bill providing for the integrated management of ground and surface water. At that time, there was a recognition of the need to try to develop a long-term dedicated funding source to direct to some of the water issues in the state. The issue was largely unresolved until this session, when a bill passed providing for state general funds and Environmental Trust Fund dollars. As part of the compromise on the legislation, the Natural Resources Committee agreed to undertake the interim study.
Patterned after the successful wind study from a few years ago, Jay Rempe, vice president of Governmental Relations for Nebraska Farm Bureau and chair of the one of the study’s Technical Working Groups, tells us more about the purpose and design of this interim study, spearheaded by Senator Chris Langemeier.
Rempe says groups will study and compile data on the current waters needs in Nebraska, usage and associated costs, including what NRDs are doing regarding integrated management planning, activities of the Department of Natural Resources and what the role is of irrigation districts. The Natural Resources Committee will review the data, the funding proposal history, and then work with the groups to determine the next steps towards a sustainable funding plan.