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The last few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to look at several water projects in eastern and southeastern Nebraska. In particular, I attended the US Army Corps of Engineers annual Open House at the former ordinance plant near Mead, NE. While at the main ground water treatment plant I had the opportunity to meet and discuss the Corps work with Janet Mathews-Flynn, Project Manager. Our discussions included characteristic of the plumes, well locations, treatment plants and procedures. In addition, we discussed future activities, land use and remediation in general regarding the Corps remediation program.
More recently I attended the 2018 NRD basin tour that included the Lower Platte South and Nemaha basins. The two day tour provided an opportunity to see and hear about water quality and quantity management issues and conservation projects. In the Lower Platte South Basin we toured areas such as the Antelope Valley Corridor Flood Control, Saline Wetlands Conservation, Hanes Branch Corridor/Spring Creek Prairie, Ash Hollow Dam and the Lincoln Well Field.
Our second day was spent in Nemaha Basin touring varying sites that included Duck Creek Recreation Area, Auburn Municipal Water (a high tech water treatment facility), Shubert Wellhead Protection, Tecumseh Niobium Mine proposal and on farm conservation practices. We also looked at the little Nemaha River channelization project completed years ago and the bank erosion that is being caused both because of the channelization and the lack of flood control in the upper regions of this river.
Finally it was a privilege to attend the EPA’s delisting of the Shell Creek Watershed for atrazine impairment of aquatic life announced by Secretary Pruitt just north of Schuyler. This is a first of its kind using an integrated water management plan that included 340 conservation management methods over 12 years that included 110 miles of Shell Creek. This was accomplished through a collaborative of agencies and individuals that began 19 years ago with the forming of the Shell Creek Watershed Improvement Group (SCWIG). This locally led group of landowners worked diligently to make this a reality. In addition, Newman Grove High School students have completed water sampling of up to 70 sites in the watershed for the past 16 years. Schuyler High School students have also worked over the past 3 years with the water sampling project as well. After the ceremony Newman Grove students provided attendees with water sampling demonstrations. Congratulations to everyone involved this was a great opportunity to showcase how working together made a significant impact to our environment.