The drought has dried up some water wells in Nebraska and certain irrigators are being shut off from the water main by the state Department of Natural Resources.
DNR Deputy Director Jim Schneider says state law calls for a pecking order in water rights.
“Every surface water permit holder in Nebraska has a priority date and an amount of water they’re allowed to divert,” Schneider says. “In times of shortages, when there’s not enough water available for everyone, we have to cut back on the most junior users to satisfy the users that were in place earlier in time.”
Schneider says the total of surface water shut-offs has reached 1,200. He says about ten river basins have been affected by the shut-offs.
He says some irrigators are fortunate enough to have more than one source of water.
“In some cases, people still have water because they’re relying on previously-stored water from a reservoir,” he says. “In particular, the Platte River, there’s water coming down from the reservoirs in Wyoming and from Lake MacConaughy.”
Schneider says what’s unusual this year is how widespread the drought is in Nebraska.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton