Drought conditions still plague Nebraska and concern about water resources grows.
Gov. Dave Heineman says that if the drought continues into next year, it could prompt disputes between rural and city interests.
“We managed to get through this past year in pretty good shape. We’re the most irrigated state in America. That’s really helped agriculture,” Heineman says. “But that’s the biggest concern I have. As you look down the road an extended drought will definitely have an impact on our state.”
Farmers used a lot of water from irrigation this past summer as crops wilted under intense heat and a lack of moisture. That helped Nebraska yields. It came with a price though. If the drought continues into next year, the state will have to decide if a water short year has to be declared.
“Again, you never know with moisture. Maybe we’ll get surprised with spring rains, snow melt coming from Colorado or Wyoming. That would be a big help. It’s just hard to predict. But I do know this, we do need moisture,” Heineman says.
Heineman says a lot of pressure is being placed on Nebraska’s 23 Natural Resources Districts, which will assess how much groundwater is available for irrigation next year.
The governor praises the efforts of farmers during a very difficult year as they dealt with drought.
“They adapted this year. They will make additional changes if they have to. It will be more challenging, particularly if it goes on for two or three years,” according to Heineman. ”But, at the end of the day, agriculture is the number one industry in this state. We do want it to be strong. That is the balance that we’re most concerned about.”
Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News, contributed to this report.