Papio-Missouri River Natural Resource District

The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resource District. State officials are looking to revise the current rules due to concerns with contamination and pollutants in the water.

DAKOTA CITY | Major concerns ran dry at a public meeting on a proposed groundwater management plan Thursday in Dakota City. 

The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resource District, that includes a six-county area stretching from Dakota County to Sarpy County, is introducing new revisions to its current more than two-decade-old management plan that officials say is an effort to protect water quality and quantity. 

The biggest changes, if approved, is that the NRD would limit when farmers can use fertilizer  in some areas and redetermines the distances between wells.

Only a few citizens attended the meeting at the Dakota City Field Office, 1505 Broadway St., that went over the changes and gathered feedback.  

Groundwater Management Engineer Paul Woodward said the new revisions are to protect the water for the more than 750,000 people the district serves. A large chunk of those that use the water live in the Omaha area.  

A change in the plan forbids commercial fertilizer application before March 1 in areas of the Platte and Elkhorn River valley due to their sandier soils, Woodward said. The plan would also not allow any fertilizer applications in the fall season. All other commercial applications can begin Nov. 1, the plan says.

Woodward said there are no concerning nitrate levels in the drinking water in Siouxland right now, but he mentioned readings in Tekamah and Springfield that warrant steps to combat the issues.  

Changes include wells that pump more than 50 gallons of well-water per minute need to have a permit before being constructed and it also requires a minimum well spacing of 600 feet from another registered domestic well. 

Thursday was the first of three public meetings that the district will hold to gather feedback from the public before the district's board could possibly vote to approve the plan in February, Woodward said.   

The remaining public meetings are 6:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at the First Northeast Bank of Nebraska, 448 S. 13th St. in Tekamah and 7 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Natural Resources Center, 8901 S. 154th St. in Omaha. 

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Crime and general assignment reporter

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