Under the proposal, NRDs using all or a bit more than the water allocated for irrigation could raise their levies three cents to fund water management projects.
Sen. Dan Hughes of Venango tells colleagues the state groundwater management plan sets the targets NRDs must meet.
“And if we don’t give our NRDs the tools to meet those targets, how are they going to do it?” Hughes asks his colleagues during legislative floor debate.
Sen. John Kuehn of Heartwell counters the NRDs have a 4 ½ cent base with a one-cent supplemental levy they can use for compliance.
“So, the idea that this three cent levy authority being allowed to sunset as intended will somehow impair or impede water management in the state is simply smoke and mirrors,” according to Kuehn.
Sen. Curt Friesen of Henderson sponsors Legislative Bill 98. The three-cent levy authority he seeks to extend can only be used for ground water management and integrated management programs under the Nebraska Ground Water Management and Protection Act.
Concern has been raised that the Republican River and Platte River basins have been using too much water. Friesen points out the Central Platte NRD used the money raised by the three-cent levy to conserve water under state-mandated water management plans.
Friesen argues the legislature can allow the extra levy authority to sunset, but that will not end the obligation the NRDs are under.
“We can take their levy authority away,” Friesen tells colleagues. “It will not stop their obligation to meet the requirements of that integrated water management plan.”
Friesen has failed to get the votes needed to end a filibuster against the bill. He could revive the issue next year.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]