A bill designed to maintain Nebraska’s greatest natural resource, its water, has been signed into law by Gov. Dave Heineman.
Heineman signed into law LB 1098, the water sustainability bill, which he says should insure that Nebraska has the water it needs both for agricultural and city uses for years to come.
“This is a difficult and challenging issue and this legislation is aimed at planning for better future water use in our state,” Heineman tells reporters during a news conference. “We’ll also be expanding the Natural Resources Commission from 16 members to 27 members. The commission will include a diversity of water users in our state, including ground water and surface water irrigators, public power districts, and wildlife conservation groups as well as others involved in agriculture.”
The bill was an outgrowth of the work of the Water Sustainability Task Force which worked through the second half of last year.
Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege, a Republican candidate for governor, sponsored the bill that created the task force a year ago and, this year, sponsored the legislation that grew from its work.
“And I believe that 1098 will be remembered as a bill that helped make water sustainability a possibility for generations to come,” Carlson says.
Sen. Mark Christensen of Imperial says the bill will spur basin-wide planning for both groundwater and surface irrigation for the vast Republican River Basin.
“From the Colorado line all the way down to almost Superior, Nebraska; that’s a huge area in this state. And it will allow everybody to sit down at the same table and work out a solution,” Christensen says.
The law aims to address water management, water quality, and flood control issues. It also creates the Water Sustainability Fund.
AUDIO: Gov. Dave Heineman holds a news conference to sign LB 1098. [8 min.]