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URNRD planning Republican Basin water conference PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 03 March 2016 15:59

By Russ Pankonin

The Imperial Republican

The Upper Republican Natural Resources District (URNRD) will address a wide range of water-related issues during their first ever “State of the Republican Basin” water conference Friday, March 25 in Imperial.

Nate Jenkins, assistant NRD manager, said the conference is designed to help attendees understand opportunities, risks and hydrology in the Republican Basin by providing a comprehensive overview of several water-related issues.

The first annual conference will include experts on water policy, legal issues and water-saving tools, such as soil moisture probes.

“There’s a lot of water-related information important to the livelihoods of area farmers and residents,” Jenkins said. As a result, it made sense to hold a one-day conference where people can get that information and get questions addressed.

Obviously, one of the legal issues centers on the lawsuits filed by surface water users in the eastern end of the basin.

All three NRDs in the basin, along with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), are being sued over the new integrated management plans adopted early this year.

Surface water users are also suing the state over the loss of surface water.

One of the featured speakers will be Justin Lavene, chief of the Nebraska attorney general’s office Bureau of Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources.

Lavene served as the lead counsel for the state in the lawsuits with Kansas, and defends the state on other water-related lawsuits.

Three of the speakers work at or have worked at DNR.  They include Jennifer Schellpeper and Jesse Bradley with DNR and Jim Schneider, Ph.D., former deputy director at DNR.

The lineup also includes 44th District State Senator Dan Hughes,  Daran Rudnick, Ph.D., irrigation/water management specialist with UNL, Andy Keep, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service district conservationist and Dirk Dinnell, URNRD assistant manager.

Jasper Fanning, Ph.D., URNRD general manager will provide a preview of the day as well as closing comments.

Wide range of topics

Schellpeper, division head for DNR’s integrated water management, will discuss long-term water planning by stakeholders from across the Republican Basin to maintain economic viability and water availability.

Bradley will talk about how groundwater and surface water can be managed for the benefit of all water users. Such management could result in less friction between surface water and groundwater users.

Schneider, who now works with Olsson Associates as the senior scientist for their water resources team, will provide insight on the impact groundwater use has on stream flow in the basin.

He will also look at how modern farming practices have affected runoff and related effects on stream flow.

Dinnel will provide an overview of the URNRD’s rules and regulations for the  2016 irrigation season.

Soil moisture probes

Jenkins said farmers will also get a first-hand look at the value soil probes can play in water management.

Rudnick will discuss maximizing the use of soil moisture probes along with factors to consider when purchasing and using them.

Jenkins said several soil probe vendors will be on hand during the conference, showing their wares.

Keep will provide an overview of the cost share available for practices designed to increase water use efficiency, such as moisture probes.

More information is available on the URNRD’s website,

The event, which runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., will be held at the new Chase County Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall.

The conference is free and open to the public and will include a free catered lunch provided by URNRD and vendors.

To better gauge numbers for the meal,  Jenkins requests people RSVP to his e-mail
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call him at 308-882-5173.