Water Resources of the United States

PROJECT ALERT NOTICE (NE) Nebraska drought

Date: Thu, 23 Aug 2012 16:31:40 EDT

Summary: As Nebraska drought deepens, USGS crews have continued to provide additional time and effort in monitoring low flows, acquiring GZFs (gage heights of zero-flow), and streamgage-maintenance activities.

Summary of Event Impact:
As Nebraska drought deepens, USGS crews have continued to provide additional time and effort in monitoring low flows, acquiring GZFs (gage heights of zero-flow), and streamgage-maintenance activities.

Event Information:
Hydrologic Conditions: Drought conditions deepened significantly throughout Nebraska this past week. The U.S. Drought Monitor currently shows 100 percent of the state in Severe Drought, with 98.3 percent of the state in Extreme drought status (up 7 percent from last week) and 22.5 percent in the Exceptional status category.
Sixteen USGS streamgages in Nebraska are at zero flow (no change from last week). Of 60 long-term USGS streamgages (>30 years record) in Nebraska, 13 (or 22 percent) are at no flow (no change from last week). Twenty-three percent of the long-term gages are equal to or exceed the 7-day low-flow average record for Nebraska.
About half of Nebraska received no rainfall this past week, and the other half received less than a tenth of an inch of rain. Water restrictions continue to be widespread throughout the state. Mandatory restrictions are in place in the city of Lincoln and the village of Weeping Water.

Four USGS NEWSC field crews continued to make additional low-flow measurements and GZF verifications at more than 9 streamgages and made 13 extra streamflow measurements over the past week (about 181 extra measurements over the past 45 days). Crews are currently making 2 measurements per week at the Elkhorn River at Waterloo, Platte River at Ashland, Platte River at Venice, and Platte River at Louisville, with increased frequency of visits to the Platte River at Duncan, North Bend, and Overton and the Loup River at Genoa, all key forecast points for Omaha and Lincoln Municipal Water Systems. Lincoln and Omaha get most of their drinking water from well fields in and adjacent to the lower Platte River and depend upon adequate streamflow in the river for their supply.
NEWSC has completed 4 additional low-end rating extensions this past week for a total of 29 across the state in the past 45 days.

Groundwater Levels
GroundwaterWatch shows half of the Nebraska real-time groundwater observation wells in the Below Normal, Much Below Normal, or Low (new low) categories. The GroundwaterWatch water-level network readings were mostly completed in the spring before the onset of the drought. The City of Lincoln municipal well field on the Platte River is approaching operational limits and is currently more stressed than during the 2002 drought. USGS crews continue to take weekly groundwater-level readings (typically monthly) at about 20 wells. Several Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) are reporting that some domestic wells and irrigation wells are going dry and are concerned about municipal supplies. One Native American Tribe has also reported dry domestic wells. One NRD is providing emergency assistance to homeowners with well repairs and replacements, or providing drinking water. Several communities (such as Humphries and Clarkson) are also reporting domestic water problems.

Water Quality
The NEWSC continues normal operation of a network of stream temperature stations, and several multi-parameter water-quality stations. In the past week, no water-quality issues have arisen that differ from previous updates.

Special projects

Communications and outreach
The NEWSC drought page continues to be updated at http://ne.water.usgs.gov/drought/. A drought information message has been created and provided to all field staff to provide USGS information to the public and for media requests. USGS staff have answered numerous media requests for drought information to date (none within the past week).

A Web page is available. The URL is: http://ne.water.usgs.gov/drought/
Twitter: @USGSNeb

No news release is planned, but we have been using our landing page of http://ne.water.usgs.gov to provide updates and link to the drought page. We are also using Twitter to post drought photos and facts as available.

OK to post on Web: yes
A WWW page is available, the URL is: http://ne.water.usgs.gov/drought/
A News release is planned. It will be emailed to GS-W_Project_Alert@usgs.gov.

Storm Surge

Submitted by: Rachael Hoagland (hoagland@usgs.gov) 402.328.4190

Sub-Region: Midwest; Region: Central United States

Sub-Region: Midwest; Region: Central United States

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