North Platte Update: Summer 2019
In the North Platte Valley of western Nebraska, access to water for agriculture, whether by a surface canal system, ground water or traditional rain-fed approach, is never taken for granted. That was abundantly clear for this region on July 17 when a surface water canal breach impacted over 107,000 acres of surface irrigated crop land. The breach stopped water flow in a significant portion of the canal system leaving irrigators “high and dry” without water during a critical growing period in this high plains environment. This event has huge economic repercussions for the region and the state (http://netnebraska.org/article/news/1184981/irrigation-collapse-triggers-uncertainty-western-nebraska).
When the Local Leadership Team came back from a summer break on Aug 23, the canal breach, overall surface water infrastructure needs and the role of the Leadership Team at this time was a relevant topic of discussion. Possible leadership roles for the group were lifted up including the possibility for the group to: 1) bring together a broad spectrum of policymakers in the region to talk about future water infrastructure funding needs; and 2) design and implement a broad-based regional water policy conference that highlights key educational and policy issues.