A drought last year that has spilled into this year for much of Nebraska has many talking about water, including a special task force.
Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege sponsored the legislation creating the Water Sustainability Task Force, formed to study how best to protect one of the state’s most precious resources.
“People in Nebraska need to understand how important water is to everybody,” Carlson tells Ken Anderson with Brownfield Ag News.
The task force of 34 members will study the various claims on water, from irrigation to raise crops to demands from city dwellers to recreational use.
Carlson says the emphasis should be on “sustainability”.
Approximately one million acre-feet of water comes into the state annually from the north and west, but as much as eight million acre-feet flows out of the state. Rain cannot be expected to replenish that outflow, according to Carlson.
Drought has placed added pressure on the Ogallala Aquifer.
“Last year, in the southeast and northeast, we pumped more water than ever in the history of the state-and I’m sure across the entire state there was more water pumped than ever before,” Carlson says.
“So when you have some domestic wells that go dry and all of a sudden people are concerned about where their drinking water is going to come from, it’s a good time to make everybody aware of the importance of it and the importance of being good stewards of that water-because we have a wonderful resource and we want it to be there for generations to come.”
The task force met for the first time last Friday. Another meeting has been scheduled for this Friday.
Carlson says the task force will hire a consultant to aid its work, which will result in a report written by December for the Unicameral to consider in next year’s legislative session.
Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News, contributed to this story.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:40]