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Great Plains Region
Billings, Mont.
Media Contact:
Mark Andersen
(406) 247-7609

Released On: August 25, 2004

Reclamation Makes Additional $354,000 Available for Emergency Drought Assistance in Nebraska
Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner John Keys announced today that $354,000 in funding has been approved for nine emergency drought relief projects in the State of Nebraska. This emergency funding, along with $531,500 approved earlier this year, will help Nebraska minimize losses and damages resulting from the current drought.

The funding is made available under the Reclamation States Emergency Drought Relief Act of 1991. The act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to undertake activities that minimizes losses and damages resulting from drought conditions in the 17 western states.

"President George Bush understands drought and that there are competing interests for scarce water," said Reclamation Commissioner John Keys. "This emergency funding will help Nebraska manage its water supply during this extended drought. These projects also will help stretch the available water supply to benefit water users as well as fish and wildlife."

The State of Nebraska will use $113,500 to improve its real-time stream gage monitoring. By providing real-time stream gage data through the internet, water managers can make improved and timelier water management decisions. Analysis of real-time stream gage data can also help optimize use of small quantities of water.

Another project will provide $100,000 to the South Platte Natural Resources District to purchase meters to monitor groundwater pumping. The meters will help the district implement its long-term groundwater plan that will facilitate proper management of ground water quality, quantity, and integrated management. The Reclamation funds will be matched by the District to purchase 416 flowmeters.

Other funded projects include:

  • $37,000 to implement a computerized system to integrate water rights information and issuance of regulating orders to meet specific flow targets on several rivers throughout Nebraska.
  • $30,000 to add soil moisture sensors to ten existing stations within the Nebraska Automated Weather Data Network. This will allow for timely assessments of water available in the soil root zone; it will benefit producers and help guide irrigation scheduling.
  • $25,000 to update the Nebraska State Drought Mitigation Plan.
  • $17,000 to upgrade stream gaging equipment and reporting capabilities on the Republican River. The equipment will provide a timely measurement of water to this drought-affected basin, which is currently implementing an interstate compact.
  • $16,500 to equip Nebraska Department of Natural Resources field office staff with flow measurement equipment so that they can quickly measure the flow. This will provide timelier stream flow measurement, consistent equipment for the field staff, and reduce the chances of miscalculations that result from using old systems.
  • $15,000 to install stream gages on the South Platte River. This will help the State of Nebraska with water administration, help optimize water deliveries, and provide data to help meet the three-state cooperative agreement on the river.

Three projects received $531,500 in emergency drought relief from Reclamation earlier this year. The first project was the installation of a hypolimentic oxygenation system for Lake Ogallala's trout fishery, which has low water levels.

The second project provided financial incentives to irrigation districts along the Republican River to leave limited irrigation storage water in the reservoirs to benefit fish and wildlife.

The final project was to the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District to provide incentives for water users with water service agreements from Lake McConaughy to not request or receive water service for the 2004 irrigation season. This conserved water in Lake McConaughy to benefit fish and wildlife.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at www.usbr.gov.