Recently, twelve Nebraska citizens met and discussed the needs and possible solutions to the lack of an adequate, stable source of funding to address the state’s water development funding needs. This group discussed four critical questions that must be answered:
1st- What are annual funding needs for water development in Nebraska?
2nd- What qualifies as water development?
3rd- Who should decide how funds for water development are spent?
4th- What are possible funding sources?
Nebraska deals with too little rainfall, as pointedly indicated in the Republican River valley, but must also deal with issues of too much rainfall, as recent flooding demonstrates. There are funding needs for irrigation systems as well as water storage and transportation structures. There are also issues specific to urban areas, such as stormwater management. Both urban and rural infrastructure systems are aging and need maintenance and both need to find ways to store more water when it is in oversupply for use when it is in short supply.
While most efforts currently deal with water short areas, all areas of the state could develop economically if the management plans had adequate funding to be implemented. All of these needs can only be dealt with if there is an adequate source of funding that is available on an annual basis.
The group developed the following proposal that is fully explained in the attached report.
The state needs at least $60 million per fiscal year that must be available from year to year and protected for planning purposes.
Water development includes:
Science, technology and research.
Rehabilitating and restoring quantity and quality related infrastructure.
New projects in areas that can lead to further development
The funds should be spent at the direction of a 7-member board.
The funds should be generated through a dedicated sales tax of 1/4 of 1%.
These recommendations were developed after thorough discussion and offered to you as an outline for finally addressing, in a reliable way, development of Nebraska's valuable water resources. Turning this proposal into policy will help future generations enjoy the benefits that have accrued through previous use of these water resources.