Water Resources of the United States

PROJECT ALERT NOTICE (NE) Nebraska Drought Update

Date: Thu, 20 Sep 2012 16:47:22 EDT

Summary: Drought conditions have remained significant across Nebraska over the past week. The U.S. Drought Monitor has categorized almost three-quarters of Nebraska as being in the Exceptional drought category (the most significant drought category). 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.

Hydrologic Conditions:
With no change from last week or the week prior, the U.S. Drought Monitor has classified 71 percent of Nebraska in the Exceptional drought category, while the remainder of the state remained in the slightly less severe drought categories of Extreme and Severe.

Sixteen USGS streamgages in Nebraska are at zero flow. Of 60 long-term USGS streamgages (>30 years record) in Nebraska, 9 (or 15 percent) are at no flow (a slight decrease from last week). 23 percent of the long-term gages are equal to or exceed the 7-day low-flow average record for Nebraska (an decrease from last week). Flow is returning to the dry sections of the Platte River as surface water irrigation demands are reduced due to the end of the growing season.

In the last week, the state received virtually no rain, with only less than one-half an inch falling in the extreme southeast corner of the state. Throughout the state, more than two dozen public water systems continue restricting water use because of water level problems. Nearly 50 more are restricting water use as a preventive measure. Most are in the eastern half of the state, away from access to the Ogallala Aquifer. Restrictions range from voluntary every-other-day lawn watering to mandatory bans on any outside water use.

Two USGS NEWSC field crews continued to make additional low-flow measurements, extend and repair pressure lines, and verify GZFs and made 5 extra streamflow measurements over the past week (about 240 extra measurements over the past 10 weeks). No additional low-end rating extensions were needed this past week (there have been a total of 35 ratings extensions and modifications across the state in the last 10 weeks).

Groundwater Levels:
GroundwaterWatch shows over 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. Due to decreased irrigation over the past two weeks (causing increased flows in the Platte River), the City of Lincoln changed the water restrictions status from mandatory to voluntary. USGS crews continue to take weekly groundwater level readings (typically monthly) at about 20 wells for the City of Lincoln. Several Natural Resources Districts (NRD) 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 are also reporting domestic water problems.

Water Quality:
The Center 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 has been updated and expanded 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. NEWSC Director, Bob Swanson, and Associate Director, Jason Lambrecht, did a drought-related interview with Nebraska Public Radio this week, which will be aired on September 21.

A WWW 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

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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