DNR boss says Lower Platte has options

The Lower Platte River Basin is not fully appropriated – that’s the word from Nebraska Department of Natural Resources Director Brian Dunnigan. Dunnigan said new evidence was the basis for overturning the preliminary determination made back in December, which was based on scientific data, information and methodologies available at the time.

However, it was found that an erroneous method was used to calculate future ground water pumping under average climatic conditions, which resulted in an overestimated amount of pumping. Dunnigan said with the discovery of the erroneous method added to the testimony and information provided during the hearing processes in the past few months, the final decision is that the Lower Platte River Basin is not fully appropriated.

Nebraska Farm Bureau President Keith Olsen said Dunnigan’s decision was the right one. Olsen said given the economic importance of water to Nebraska agriculture, it is vitally important any decision on a fully appropriated status be based on the best science.

He says, however, the decision should not end the discussion and encourages the Department of Natural Resources to work with the Natural Resource Districts in the Lower Platte River Basin and independent technical experts to continue to gather the data and develop methodologies to better understand the water supplies and uses in the basin.

Thanks to Josh Mackey, KOGA, Ogallala