Accurate, up-to-date information is vital for the NRD's water management efforts. The district operates several monitoring programs to track water quality, quantity, and other factors.
The NRD has been monitoring groundwater quality in the district since 1988, and has two major monitoring programs:
Statewide Groundwater Monitoring Network
Currently the Lower Platte North NRD has 53 wells in the Statewide Groundwater Monitoring Network. The samples are analyzed for nitrate-nitrogen and common pesticides. This program is headed by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality. The goal of the project is to provide a broad understanding of the overall groundwater quality in the state. LPNNRD began sampling for the statewide network in 2004.
Aquifer Groundwater Monitoring
The NRD also performs a more intensive sampling program that focuses on one of the four major aquifer regions in the district each year. Irrigation wells are sampled for nitrate-nitrogen and some are tested for pesticides.
With the help of area cooperators, a groundwater energy level monitoring network is used in the Lower Platte North NRD to track changes in groundwater levels.
Typically there are 140-150 wells in the NRD's monitoring network. These wells are measured twice a year (once in the fall, once in the spring). The district also operates several dedicated monitoring wells that continually log ground water levels.
The NRD uses 1987 as the "base year" for monitoring long-term trends in groundwater levels. (That year was chosen because it followed several years of above normal rainfall, which recharged aquifers to near ‘pre-development’ levels.)
The map below shows overall conditions with the most recent water level readings factored in.
- Blue areas are "Level 1" areas, where water levels in the aquifer are within historical norms compared to the 1987 base year.
- Yellow areas are "Level 2" areas, where water levels in the aquifer have declined approximately 10% since 1987.
- Red areas are "Level 3" areas, where water levels in the aquifer have declined approximately 15% since 1987.
- Gray areas are areas where the NRD is still gathering data to establish a baseline.
To help producers determine how much water their irrigation wells are actually using, the Lower Platte North NRD has a portable flow meter. The ultrasonic flow meter is a portable, microprocessor-based instrument used to measure the flow of water and other homogenous liquids. The instrument is non-invasive, which means that it is not mounted in-line; instead, it is strapped to the outside of the pipe. Its transducers (sensors) are mounted to the pipe and flow measurements can be made without stopping the water flow or physically contacting the water in any way.
The fee for a flow test is $20 for the first well and $5 for each additional well. If NRD staff are already performing other field work with the operator, the $20 fee for the first well is reduced to $5. In Phase II areas, the fee is waived.
To schedule a flow meter test, contact Russell Oaklund.
A district-wide precipitation gauging network has been set up in the Lower Platte North NRD, consisting of 26 sites as of spring 2001. Twelve of the sites are owned and operated by the High Plains Regional Climate Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The remaining sites are NRD stations, maintained by cooperating landowners in the district.
Precipitation information is useful when merged with other district water programs, including ground water quality sampling, ground water energy levels, stream gauging, and others.
The Lower Platte North is a partner in NeRAIN, a program which uses NRD-coordinated volunteers across the state to monitor and report rainfall to the Department of Natural Resources. Find out more at the NeRAIN website.
Surface Water Sampling Program
The NRD cooperates with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality to monitor toxic blue-green algae and bacteria (E. coli) at Fremont Lakes. Weekly samples are taken from the beach at Fremont Lake #9, #10, #20 and at the boat dock at Fremont Lake #20. Check weekly results and get more information on bacteria and toxic blue green algae at http://www.ndeq.state.ne.us/
The NRD no longer has a dedicated stream gauging program, but it does track several stream gauging sites maintained by the Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Geological Survey.