Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District

Water Resources

At the June 8, 2015 Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District Board of Director's Meeting, the Board approved a 6-month Temporary Stay on the addition of new groundwater irrigated acres, in compliance with Neb. Rev. Stat. 46-707(2). 


The Board also requested that the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources implement a similar 6-month Stay on new surface water irrigated acres.


These temporary Stays went into effect on June 29, 2015. 

At the December 14, 2015 Board of Director's Meeting, it was determined the Stays should be continued until the completion of the Integrated Management Plan for the District.

Click here to access the updated NRD Groundwater Quantity/Quality Regulations.

NeRAIN (Nebraska Rainfall Assessment and

Information Network) is a program compiled of  volunteers to collect statewide precipation data.

The data collected from the volunteers is used to

make decisions for agriculture, industry, home water use, insurance companies, resource managers, utility

providers and educators.  Participants receive a free all-weather rain guage and are asked to spend a few

minutes each day recording the daily amount of precipitation.  This data can be entered online at the NeRAIN website or called into the MNNRD office.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer in the NeRAIN program, please contact our office or visit the NeRAIN website at  http://dnrdata.dnr.ne.gov/NeRAIN

Ambient Water Sample Collection
Water samples are taken from Snake River, Niobrara River, Long Pine Creek and Plum Creek once a month.  These water samples are sent to the Heath and Human Services lab in Lincoln and tested for bacteria and nitrates.  Every fourth month additional samples are taken and tested for metal concentrations.  During the summer months, water samples are taken from the Mill Pond in Valentine and Merritt Reservoir once a week.  These samples are tested for bacteria and toxic algae concentrations and the public is alerted if either reaches an unsafe level.
Nitrate Sampling

Nitrate samples are collected each year at pivots, monitoring wells,

and domestic wells.  These samples are tested at the MNNRD office and

also sent to Ward Labs in Kearney.  In 2015, over 350 samples were collected.  District wide the average nitrate level was 4.7 parts per million (ppm).  This is below the safe drinking

water level of 10 ppm set forth by the Environmental Protection


However the range across the district was from 0.1 ppm - 45 ppm. 

If you would like your domestic well tested for nitrates, please follow the steps below:

- Allow your water to run for 5-10 minutes

- Rinse a clean container several times with the water to be sampled

- Using care to not touch the inside of the container or lid, collect your sample and keep in a cool location until

you can drop the sample off at the MNNRD office.

Also look for the MNNRD booth at the Ranch Expo in Bassett and the Cherry and Brown

County Fairs as nitrate testing will be available.

Water analysis is available through Ward Laboratories, Inc. in Kearney, NE.  Please pick up a water sample bottle from the MNNRD office.  The following analyses are available:

-Irrigation Water Quality

-Livestock Suitability

-Household Complete Mineral Test

-Brewers Test

-Household Mineal Test

-Household Coliform Bacteria


Chemigation is the injection of agricultural chemicals into water flowing through an irrigation distribution system for application to land or crops.

Chemigation allows irrigators to regulate the rate and time of application, increasing the efficiency of the chemicals and producing the best results possible.  Chemigation also reduces handling of chemicals minimizing operator exposure and reducing the chance for spills.

Inspections of chemigation equipment are required to ensure that all parts are working properly.  Faulty equipment can lead to accidental groundwater contamination through backflow into the irrigation well.  Backflow occurs when the irrigation water and chemicals is siphoned back into the irrigation well when normal operation is interupted.  Chemigation inspections are conducted by the MNNRD every other year and only properly functioning equipment is awarded a permit.  Using chemigation without a permit is against the law.

To obtain a chemigation permit from the MNNRD, irrigators must attend a University of Nebraska Extension training course and pass a written exam to become certified. 

Certification is valid for four years.  Once certified, an irrigator can apply for a permit with the MNNRD.  Permit fees are due by May 31st and expire in one year.  Fees are $50 for a renewal permit, $75 for a new permit and $300 for an emergency permit.

Static Water Levels
Static water levels are measured every Spring and Fall at 150 designated monitoring and irrigation wells.  This data is used to monitor the water level before and after irrigation season and to estimate recharge rates.  This data is also shared with other agencies for use in understanding how aquifer systems work and to monitor long-term changes in groundwater.  For current results
contact the MNNRD office or visit http://waterdata.usgs.gov
Nitrogen Certification Classes

Water Programs Supervisor Tim Storm offers nitrogen management certification classes each Spring in Ainsworth and Valentine. This course is required for everyone applying fertilizer to crop fields.  Certification is valid for four years and is offered in conjunction with the UNL extension chemigation applicator certification classes.