This article was originally written by Linda Ulrich and was featured in the Fall 2018 Growing Magazine.
The University of Nebraska Water Resources Advisory Panel (WRAP) was formed in 2006 during a severe statewide drought. WRAP comprised representatives of state agencies, NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) and constituency groups with interest in addressing the best management of water resources in Nebraska because the state was facing increased pressure to address water issues resulting from interstate compacts, the ongoing drought and other factors.
Collaboration among the groups represented in WRAP, adoption of technology and university research have played a big role in addressing the concerns that led to the original formation of the group. Currently, water quality, particularly high nitrate levels in groundwater, has emerged as a focus, said Rachael Herpel, assistant director for the university's Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute and the Nebraska Water Center; Herpel coordinates WRAP activities.
WRAP is made up of 15 individuals representing a cross section of Nebraska's water decision-makers, including agricultural producers, representatives of many of the state's water-related agencies and others who serve as the "voices of Nebraska" for water issues, Herpel said. The goal is to better connect the university with the wisdom of outside experts and those who often rely on the university's water-related research, education and outreach to make decisions that affect Nebraska's water resources.
Panel members agree that the university should support technologies and efforts that make water conservation easier and water safer, but producers need to know what technologies are worth their investment, particularly in the current economy. Stakeholders also want the university to model the sustainable behavior it believes in. Those are just a couple of the many water issues the panel has identified, Herpel said.
WRAP helps the university learn about stakeholder concerns, work on those issues and be responsive to their needs, she said. "The panel takes this responsibility very seriously."