Central Platte Natural Resources District and North Platte Natural Resources District
Nebraska has a long history of local governance with the establishment of Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) in 1972. The State’s 23 NRDs are organized around river basin boundaries and are directed by locally elected governing boards with taxing power and authority over the regulation and management of groundwater, among other natural resources. The NRD governance framework has most of the characteristics that current research indicates are key to successful water governance. The study areas in Nebraska comprise the Central Platte and North Platte NRDs.
The Nebraska Department of Natural Resources is charged with regulating surface water in Nebraska and is statutorily required to work with NRDs to develop integrated management plans in areas determined to be fully- or over-appropriated (i.e. where existing uses exceed the supply). The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality is the primary agency responsible for water quality with the NRDs having some regulatory authority over non-point source groundwater quality.
The primary water quantity issues in the Central Platte and North Platte NRDs include inadequate stream flows for endangered species and ensuring future groundwater availability. Additionally, the North Platte NRD is dealing with decreased irrigation return flows to the Platte River resulting in decreased downstream water availability. All of the North Platte NRD and most of the Central Platte have been designated fully- or over-appropriated. The primary water quality issue in the Central Platte NRD is nitrate-nitrogen in groundwater. The North Platte NRD has a subarea designated for increased regulation due to nitrate-nitrogen in groundwater.
Key Research Question(s)
Does the Water for Ag stakeholder engagement model/process positively effect CPRM in the Central Platte & North Platte Natural Resource Districts?
- Assess the consistency of Common Pool Resource Management (CPRM) in two Nebraska NRDs with CPRM principles, and in project sites in other states
- Assess effect of stakeholder engagement on CPRM in two Nebraska NRDs
- Inform the development of the transferrable engagement model by:
- Provide results obtained from laboratory and stakeholder experiments on how alternative engagement processes contribute to water governance objectives
- Develop questions for the baseline survey regarding respondents’ knowledge and opinions about the economic impacts of water issues on various stakeholder groups
- Establish field studies and conduct modeling efforts in Nebraska to test solutions proposed by the social behavioral component