Water Use Area Created in Northern Boone County

Responding to groundwater concerns in the Petersburg area, the Lower Loup Natural Resources District Board of Directors voted, at their meeting October 28th, to implement a new groundwater restricted use area in northern Boone County.   The new restriction means new groundwater acre transfers, new supplemental wells, and new irrigated acres will not be allowed in this area of Boone County in the future.

For a section by section map of the area, click here .

The NRD Board decision was prompted by concerns from landowners this summer that their domestic wells were having trouble pumping during peak irrigation season. LLNRD General Manager Russell Callan said that the District’s annual groundwater measurements in that area have shown that, overall,  the aquifer levels were increasing.  However, when the aquifer is stressed, he said that shallower domestic wells were experiencing trouble pumping.

Callan said that domestic wells that serve homes, livestock operations, and other uses are usually drilled at more shallow levels to lower the costs of installation.  He said that irrigation wells are higher capacity and are often drilled to much deeper levels. 

Tylr Naprstek, the NRD’s assistant manager, said that the District would be investigating the aquifers in that area, to determine if they are connected and to determine the depths and capacity of these formations.  He said the LLNRD planned to study the area with help from the US Geological Survey (USGS) and the UNL Conservation and Survey Division (CSD).  He said the District planned to install transducers in several wells in the area.  Transducers are water pressure sensors that can measure static water levels and transmit the data.

Cam Conrad, LLNRD Water Modeling Coordinator, said that the boundaries of the new area of concern was created using the District’s well data and data from the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources.  He said the area, created along section lines, was marked by the NRD’s boundary line on the north and east sides.

Callan said that the area will be continuously monitored to determine if refinements are needed. He added that this issue had occurred previously in this area in dry years.

Callan stated that new irrigated acres had been granted in the area for 2022, but said that none of the new acres required new wells. Callan said that, overall, the issue wasn’t a lack of groundwater, it was a circumstance where domestic wells weren’t drilled deep enough to reach it.  He said the Lower Loup NRD encourages all irrigators and residents to report any potential well problems to the NRD as soon as possible.