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URNRD holding first-ever water conference in Imperial Friday PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Friday, 25 March 2016 17:04

By Russ Pankonin

The Wauneta Breeze

The Upper Republican Natural Resources District’s (URNRD) first ever “State of the Republican Basin” water conference will be held in Imperial Friday, March 25.

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

Nate Jenkins, assistant NRD manager, said there has been a lot of interest in the event.

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.

The day will feature speakers on a variety of water topics.

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.

Surface water users in the eastern end of the basin have filed several suits.

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 their surface water.

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 brief preview of the day as well as closing comments.

Speaker 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.

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.

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.