The Upper Loup Natural Resources District established a Groundwater Management Area (GWMA) in 2008 to improve and protect groundwater quality in the district.
Groundwater provides approximately 85 percent of the water used for human consumption in Nebraska. Much effort is being placed on managing Nebraska’s groundwater supplies and reducing the potential negative effects of human activities. GWMA identifies where problem areas may exist with the quality of our groundwater. The risk is due to a combination of factors including farming practices, sewage disposal systems, livestock facilities and the natural geology of the aquifer underlying those areas and the depth to groundwater at those points. There have been no specific areas in our District that have been identified as high priority (also known as phase areas) due to the higher risk for groundwater contamination.
To enact the GWMA the Upper Loup NRD devised some basic rules and regulations (Rules 16-18) Ground Water Area Rules and Regulations that use a phased approach of regulation that requires varying degrees of reporting and best management practices. The entire Upper Loup NRD is in Phase I of the NRD’s Groundwater Management Program. Phase I area has an average groundwater nitrate content between zero (0) and seven (7) parts per million. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set ten (10) parts per million as the Maximum Contaminant Level. In 2008 and 2009 the District’s average nitrate levels were 2.08 ppm in Domestic wells and 1.92 ppm in Irrigation wells.
Phase I areas require a permit prior to construction of a well that pumps over 50 gallons of water per minute, wells to be sampled once every five years and operators are encouraged to attend classes for fertilizer and irrigation water management, to perform deep soil testing for residual nutrients and to not apply nitrogen fertilizer on sandy soils in the fall or winter.