Protecting Nebraska’s Groundwater

Chemigation is the practice of applying fertilizer or agricultural chemicals to land or crops through an irrigation system. If adequate safeguards are not used, chemicals can flow back through the irrigation system into the well, polluting the groundwater.

To protect Nebraska’s groundwater from possible contamination, the Legislature enacted LB284, the Chemigation Act, in the mid-1980s. The Act requires the owner of a chemigation system to obtain a permit¬†prior to chemigating. To qualify for a permit, an irrigation system must be fitted with safety equipment to prevent backflow of chemicals into the well. All chemigation systems must be inspected and approved by the Lower Platte North NRD before an initial permit is issued. The permitholder is primarily liable for any damage resulting from chemigation.

Requirements and Penalties

Anyone wishing to chemigate is required to attend a certification class and pass a written exam. This includes any person who will be operating chemigation equipment, whether it is their own or that of a landowner from whom they are renting land. The law requires every new chemigation site to be inspected and approved by the NRD before a permit can be granted. To ensure compliance, sites are reinspected at least once every three years. A complete set of chemigation rules and the required equipment needed can be downloaded here. Chemigation violations will be submitted to county attorneys. Penalties consist of Class I, II, III, or IV misdemeanors or a civil fine.

Permit Fees

$ 90.00 Per injection site for new permits
$ 30.00 Per injection site for renewal permits

Renewal applications must be renewed annually by June 1st.

Emergency Permits – $300 per injection site

Special Permits – $60 per injection site

Required Equipment

1. Pipeline (or called Mainline) Check valve
2. Vacuum relief valve
3. Inspection port
4. Low pressure drain
5. Chemical injection line check valve
6. Simultaneous interlock device
7. 20-foot 3/4″ diameter hose

Rules and Regulations
Reporting Spills

Confirmed or suspected spills related to chemigation must be reported to the Lower Platte North NRD and the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy within 24 hours. If an adverse effect is found, NDEE is empowered to take immediate steps to protect the public. NDEE is also responsible for developing a cleanup and recovery plan. The chemigation permitholder will be responsible for carrying out the cleanup with supervision from the NRD and/or NDEE.