NCRS 8-7-09

August 7, 2009

Five Nebraska projects that promote ground and surface water conservation and improved water quality were recently funded by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, according to NRCS Chief Dave White.

The five projects total nearly $9.85 million in federal funds and will be coupled with $7.4 million in local and state funds and in-kind services. Only land located in the project areas (see map) can be used for these projects.Applications are being accepted August 3-14 at local NRCS offices.

NRCS State Conservationist Steve Chick said, “These projects are a sub-component of the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) called the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP) and are a partnership effort between NRCS and local sponsors.”

AWEP provides farmers and ranchers financial and technical assistance to apply water enhancement
activities that conserve ground and surface water and improve water quality on agricultural lands within designated project areas. All the project areas are multi-year events, varying from three to five years. This program works best for the producer who only wants to make water conservation or water quality improvements. Producers with these water goals and additional natural resource objectives like animal manure systems, wildlife habitat, or grazing systems, should apply for general EQIP funds.

Brief Project Summaries

Detailed maps of the project areas are available on the NRCS Nebraska Web site. 

  • The Middle Republican Natural Resources District (NRD) received five-year funding for the retirement (temporary and permanent) of irrigated lands to dryland cropping or other land uses. In addition, funds will be used to increase the efficiency of current irrigation systems, especially gravity systems. They received $3.1 million in federal funds and an additional $600,000 in state and local funds will be committed to this project. Project area includes southern Lincoln, Hayes, Frontier, Hitchcock and Red Willow counties.
  • The Lower Platte North NRD received about $1.8 million in funding for a five-year project to convert irrigated land to dryland production or further reduce water use by increased irrigation management or using flow meters or other scheduling equipment. The federal funds will be matched by participating individuals. Project area includes portions of Boone, Madison, Platte, Colfax, Butler, Dodge, and Saunders counties.
  • The Little Blue NRD has received funding for a three-year project to improve irrigation water use in the Hastings wellhead area and another area between Chester and Fairbury. Actions would involve converting gravity to sprinkler irrigation systems, converting some acres from irrigation to dryland, improving sprinkler system efficiency, and improving water management. The project received $3 in federal funds which will be combined with additional NRD, state and landowner funds. Project area includes portions of Adams, Clay, Nuckolls, Thayer, Fillmore, and Jefferson counties. 
  • The Lower Big Blue NRD received $400,000 in federal funds for a five-year project. Project goals include:
    1. reducing water use in the Beatrice, Wilber and DeWitt wellfield areas and the NRD's groundwater management Phase 2 area through improved irrigation management practices; and
    2. reducing soil loss in concentrated flow areas with the installation of small dams. 
    Project area includes portions of Saline, Jefferson and Gage counties.
  • The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District, based in Holdrege, received $1.55 million in federal funds that will be combined with $3.55 million of district, Tri-Basin NRD, and local farmer funds. Over the five-year project, the goal is to install 50 new full circle center pivots and 400 acres of sub-surface irrigation. Particpating producers must agree to farm pivot corners no-till for four years and have some record keeping requirements. Targeted areas are lands along the C.N.P.P.I.D. supply canal southeast of North Platte and acres in Gosper, Phelps, and Kearney Counties. Project area includes portions of Lincoln, Dawson, Gosper, Phelps and Kearney counties.

Nebraska had five of the 63 projects approved in 21 states. Landowners can get more program details at any NRCS Field Office or by visiting the Nebraska NRCS Web site.

NRCS News Release