Groundwater

Management

The Lower Loup Natural Resources District's Ground Water Management Area (GWMA) became effective January 1, 2002.  Two years later, another portion of the NRD moved into Phase III of Ground Water Quality Management. That area, known as Area 28, is located south of the Loup River, stretching from southwest of Fullerton to south of Columbus.  It covers parts of Nance and Platte Counties.

The entire Lower Loup Natural Resources District is in Phase I of the NRD’s Ground Water Management Program. Phase I requires a permit prior to construction of a well that pumps over 50 gallons of water per minute.  It also includes the implementation of an expanded education program. The NRD has put that program in place, including demonstration plots, educational programs, and informational brochures, newsletters, and news releases. The Phase III controls include all the requirements of Phase I as well as additional regulations. Under Phase III, operators are required to pass a nitrogen certification test. They are required to monitor water applications to better manage fertilizer applications and control leaching of nitrates.  

To access the Phase III Groundwater Management Area summary, click here.

Phase III control means additional regulation of fertilizer application.  Fall and winter applications of commercial nitrogen fertilizer are prohibited on all soil types.  Commercial nitrogen fertilizer can be applied to all soils after March 1st.

Spring application of commercial nitrogen fertilizer requires split application, pre- and post-emergence. If over half is applied as a pre-emergent, a labeled inhibitor is required.  Certification from the dealer that the inhibitor was used at the recommended rate is necessary as well. In cases where less than 80 pounds of actual nitrogen is applied, the inhibitor is not required.

A water analysis and deep soils analysis for nitrogen content are annual requirements. The water analysis is needed for all wells irrigating corn, soybeans, sorghum, or potatoes.  The soils analysis is required for all fields planted to those same crops.  The NRD requires a report each year prior to January 31.  Laboratory reports for soil and water analyses are required attachments.

The federal government has said water containing more than ten parts per million of nitrates becomes a public health concern, especially for infants and the elderly.  Ground water nitrate readings in the Phase III area have measured considerably higher than the federal government’s standard, with average readings for nitrates as high as 23.5 parts per million in the early 1980s.

The designation of a Ground Water Management Area followed studies by the Lower Loup NRD and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality. Those studies showed wells in the eastern part of the District, particularly those in parts of Platte and Nance counties, with higher levels of nitrates in the ground water. The Lower Loup NRD continues to sample and study ground water from across the District.

If you have questions about the Lower Loup Natural Resources District Ground Water Management Area, contact Assistant Manager Russell Callan at the NRD.

A Groundwater Management Annual Report Form (PDF) is available online. Print the pdf, complete the information. Deliver the signed form to any NRD Field Office, or mail it to:

     Lower Loup Natural Resources District
     2620 Airport Drive
     Ord, NE 68862

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