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Rules & Regulations

The Nebraska Legislature enacted laws in 1972 to combine 154 special purpose entities into 23 NRDs. These districts are unique to Nebraska. NRDs are local government entities with broad responsibilities to protect natural resources.

Natural resources districts have local leadership responsibilities for protecting ground water from overuse and pollution. Each district also has a plan to protect ground water. State law has given districts a variety of regulatory tools, to deal with contamination, shortages or user conflicts.

The District's primary regulatory tool in the area of water management is the Districtwide Ground Water Management Area Rules and Regualations. First approved by the SPNRD Board of Directors in October of 2002, they were adopted in accordance to authority granted in Neb. Rev. Stat. 46-701 to 46-754.

The purpose of the rules and regulations are to implement the South Platte Natural Resources District's Ground Water Management Plan. The Nebraska Ground Water Management and Protection Act provides the authority for the Plan and the Districtwide Rules and Regulations. The goal of the Plan is to facilitate the proper management of ground water for quality, integrated (ground water and surface water) and quantity.

The South Platte NRD was among the first NRDs in the state to create ground water quality management areas.  The Sidney Groundwater Quality Management Area was created in 1990 to help curb elevated ground water nitrate levels in the Sidney area, and similar ground water quality management areas soon followed in the Lodgepole Valley east of Sidney and South Platte Valley.

The primary goal of the South Platte NRD's groundwater quality management areas is to improve groundwater quality to within federal EPA and Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality standards.  The standard for nitrate nitrogen, or Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL), is 10 parts per million. Depending on the results of groundwater nitrate testing in a given area, a phased approach is used to bring the contaminant under control. For an overview on the District's groundwater quality management and its phases, click here.

In May of 2011, the SPNRD board of directors approved an extensive overhaul of the Districtwide Ground Water Management Area Rules and Regulations, which repealed seperate quality management area documents and incorporated them into a new set of rules and regulations covering both water quantity and water quality. The changes allow resources managers and the public to seek information in a single document, rather than looking through multiple sets of rules and regulations.

The rules and regulations are regularly reviewed and modified in accordance with current laws and needs.

                                                         Integrated Management Regulation Development

Under requirements of the Nebraska Groundwater Management Protection Act (LB962), the state’s natural resources districts with areas designated as fully- or overappropriated are required to work with the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (NDNR) develop integrated management plans to manage the state’s ground water and surface water resources.

On June 20, 2008 South Platte NRD chairman Keith Rexroth and NDNR acting director Brian Dunnigan (appointed Director in late 2008) exchanged letters of agreement approving the District’s Integrated Management Plan (IMP). The IMP became effective on July 20, 2008. Rule 9, covering the District’s overappropriated areas, was incomplete until the Basin-Wide Plan for Joint Integrated Water Resources Management of Overappropriated Portions of the Platte River Basin was completed. Rule 9 must meet provisions of the Basin-wide Plan. The District’s overappropriated area includes areas along Lodgepole Creek, Sidney Draw, a small portion of northeast Cheyenne County and the South Platte River Valley.

Among the section’s goals are that within the first 10 year increment, consumptive use of water within the District’s overappropriated areas must return to 1997 levels. Once the areas return to 1997 levels, the goal is to address achieving a fully appropriated condition and subsequently maintain such a condition.

Another goal is to ensure SPNRD conditions would not cause noncompliance by Nebraska with any interstate compact or other agreements, or noncompliance with the Nebraska New Depletions Plan or Platte River Implementation Program.

The amended IMP went effect September 14, 2009.

The Integrated Management Plan was jointly developed by the District and NDNR. It was prepared in accordance with Neb. Rev. Stat. 46-715, 46-716, 46-717, 46-718 and 46-720.

The complex Basin-Wide Plan for Joint Integrated Water Resources Management of Overappropriated Portions of the Platte River Basin was five years in the making. The South Platte NRD is one of five natural resources districts that worked with the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources and stakeholders to complete the management plan, which had to be approved by all entities.

The Basin-wide Plan’s goals are to:
- Incrementally achieve and sustain a fully appropriated condition.
- Prevent reductions in the flow of a river or stream that would cause noncompliance with an interstate compact or decree or other formal state contract or agreement.
- Keep the Plan current.
- Work cooperatively to identify and investigate disputes between ground water users and surface water appropriators and, if determined appropriate, implement management solutions to address such issues.

Following public hearings and final approval by NDNR and the NRD boards within the overappropriated portion of the Platte River Basin, the Basin-wide Plan went into effect September 11, 2009.