08/08 - October symposium panels will discuss “Managing an Essential Resource: Basin by Basin”

A series of basin-specific panels will look at water management in Nebraska at the Nebraska Water Center’s annual water symposium Thursday, Oct. 20.

The daylong symposium will be held at Nebraska Innovation Campus in Lincoln for the first time, followed the next day by the annual Nebraska Water Law Conference.

“Panels will be discussing what basin groups have concluded about an overlying state water policy and goals, objectives and problem areas in each basin,” said Lee Orton, who helped plan the symposium agenda with Prairie Fire publisher W. Don Nelson and Nebraska Water Center director Chittaranjan Ray.

Among the problems experienced in water management and planning for each of the state’s major river basins will be water supply, political structures, past management and development characteristics and other topics.

“The current state of water planning and management in each basin will be front-and-center in the discussions, along with unique and shared problem areas,” Ray said.

Basin panels will each consist of three to five members and have been organized to give a wide perspective of viewpoints. The panels will cover, Upper Platte, Lower Platte, Republican, Blue and Niobrara basins.

Invited panelists include:

Upper Platte: John Berge, North Platte NRD; Dennis Strauch, Pathfinder Irrigation District; and Aaron Thompson, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, McCook.

Lower Platte: John Miyoshi, Lower Platte North NRD; Mace Hack, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission; Meagan Sittler, Lower Platte River Corridor Alliance; Don Kraus, The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District; and Jerry Kenny, Platte River Recovery Implementation Program.

Republican: Brad Edgerton, Frenchman-Cambridge Irrigation District; Mike Clement, Lower Republican NRD; and Tom Carlson, former state senator.

Blue: Dave Eigenberg Upper Big Blue NRD; Marty Link, Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality; Mike Onnen, Lower Big Blue NRD; and LeRoy Sievers, Nebraska Department of Natural Resources.

Niobrara: Pat O’Brian, Middle Niobrara NRD; Tim McCoy, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission; Steve Thede, National Park Service; and Warren Arganbright, attorney.

Bob Swanson, director of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Nebraska Water Sciences Center will conclude morning discussions with an update on USGS research work in Nebraska.

Afternoon panel discussions will key on the work being done by the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources from director Jeff Fassett and views from some of the state’s largest utilities, including Joel Christensen of Metropolitan Utilities District and Steve Owen of Lincoln Water.

An integrated management plan panel discussion will be led buy Christine Reed of the University of Nebraska, Omaha before a symposium wrap-up by Orton, of the Nebraska Well Drillers Association and Water Leaders Academy, and Ray.

Law Conference

The next day at Nebraska Innovation Campus, NWC and the University of Nebraska College of Law present the Nebraska Water Law Conference, featuring the latest in Nebraska water law for attorneys and water professionals (though open to all).

Organizer Anthony Schutz of the Law College opens the morning with sessions on Water Law 101 and updates in current water law, followed by attorneys Mike Klein and Justin Lavene on “Takings claims.”

Attorney Don Blankenau then kicks off a conjunctive management session with a discussion of the western Nebraska N-CORPE project, followed by Upper Niobrara-White NRD manager Pat O’Brien on Niobrara transfers and Central Platte NRD manager Lyndon Vogt on short-term auctions in the Central Platte NRD.

Pre-lunch keynote speaker Roger Patterson will then talk about what California has learned from Nebraska as the Golden Gate state manages one of the worst long-term droughts in its history.

In the afternoon, Lincoln attorney Stephen Mossman and Drake University’s Jerry Anderson will talk about landowner drainage liability followed by water quality discussions on Nebraska nitrates by Michael Linder and lessons from Flint, Michigan by Rick Kubat of Omaha’s Metropolitan Utilities District. Attorney Lash Chaffin will explore the ethical dimensions of Flint, Michigan.

Other topics and speakers for inclusion in the day’s events were being considered when this went to press.

Registration details have not yet been set.

For the latest information on both of these coming events, go to watercenter.unl.edu.