Water News Archive

Focused Watershed Projects

Focused watershed projects bring together the combined resources and knowledge of many agencies and organizations to solve local watershed issues. Focused watershed projects that involve University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension include the following. (By clicking on the linked titles you may go to the individual project Web site.)

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Frequently Asked Questions about Watersheds

What is a watershed?
A watershed is an area of land that drains to a common waterway, such as a stream, lake, estuary, wetland, or, ultimately, the ocean.

Do I live in a watershed?
Yes, everyone lives in a watershed.

How can I find out my watershed address?
Go to the EPA web page Surf Your Watershed

What are water quality protection practices or best management practices?

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Watershed Planning & Management

Watershed planning and management comprise an approach to protecting water quality and quantity that focuses on the whole watershed. This approach is necessary due to the nature of polluted runoff, which in most watersheds is the biggest contributor to water pollution. Polluted runoff is a caused by a variety of land use activities including development, transportation and agriculture, and may originate anywhere in the watershed.
Watershed planning and management involves a number of activities including:

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Publications on Watersheds & Watershed Management

Sediment, nutrient, and pesticide losses in runoff are major pollutants of surface waters in the Midwest. Targeting of Watershed Management Practices for Water Quality Protection addresses best management practices in watersheds or landscapes to maximize the impact of investments in water quality protection. This full-color, 23-page document is intended as a resource for those who advise on or practice land and water management.

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Agricultural Irrigation & Water Quality

Research has shown that concentrations of nitrate - nitrogen have accumulated in the groundwater beneath areas where irrigation is intense and where the soils are permeable allowing for leaching of nitrogen fertilizer. Leaching is most severe for surface irrigation systems used to irrigate sandy soils. The Platte River Valley and Eastern Sandhills have been most severely affected.

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Subsurface Drip

Advantages and Disadvantages of Subsurface Drip Irrigation, EC776 (PDF, 1.2 MB; 8 full color pages)
Discusses subsurface drip irrigation, including the advantages of water application efficiency and savings, energy savings and potential yield increases and the disadvantges of initial investment, system capacity, design restrictions and emitter clogging.

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Regulations & Policies

Nebraska water resources play a major role in the state's heritage and economy. Beginning with the state constitution, Nebraska surface waters have been governed by the Appropriative First-in-Time, First-in-Right Rule which allows diversion of water from the surface waters of the state based upon the date the water right was obtained. Surface water rights entitle land owners or organizations to remove a set amount of water from a specific location.

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Order CD/DVD Set

Order the Water Optimizer CD/DVD set for $7.00. The CD/DVD set contains material not available for download: background information, applications, examples and research results for the Water Optimizer program.

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Water Optimizer Tool

The Water Optimizer tool evaluates single fields for several crop options. Irrigated crops include: corn, soybeans, sorghum, wheat, alfalfa, edible beans, sunflowers, and sugar beets. Dryland crops include: corn, soybeans, sorghum, sunflowers, alfalfa and wheat in continuous, summer fallow and eco-fallow rotations.

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Economics & Costs

The University of Nebraska's Bureau of Business Research conducted a study in 2003 to determine the impact of irrigated agriculture on Nebraska 's economy. The net total economic impact was computed by comparing impacts with irrigation to what would have resulted without irrigation. The research examined actual 2003 impacts and what would have occurred if average precipitation had occurred. For normal precipitation the total impact of irrigation would have been just over $3.6 billion per year. Since 2003 was a drought year, the actual economic impact was more than $4.5 billion.

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