Water Resources of the United States

PROJECT ALERT NOTICE (NE) Nebraska Drought Update

Date: Thu, 27 Sep 2012 15:55:59 EDT

Summary: According to the Lincoln Journal Star (http://journalstar.com/business/agriculture/drought-intensifies-in-nebraska-u-s/article_042c6837-1037-5723-8c8f-874b604fad05.html), "Nebraska remains the state hardest hit by drought, with the portion of the state affected by the most severe drought, exceptional drought, growing from just under 71 percent to just more than 73 percent." 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:
The U.S. Drought Monitor has classified 73 percent of Nebraska in the Exceptional drought category (an increase from last week), while the remainder of the state remained in the slightly less severe drought categories of Extreme (98% of Nebraska) and Severe (100% of Nebraska). Fifteen 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 (no change from last week). 20 percent of the long-term gages are equal to or exceed the 7-day low-flow average record for Nebraska (a decrease from last week). In the past week, the state received virtually no rain. Throughout the state, more than two dozen public water systems continue restricting water use because of water level decreases. 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, verify GZFs, and made three extra streamflow measurements over the past week (about 245 extra measurements over the past 11 weeks). One additional low-end rating extensions was needed this past week (there have been a total of 36 ratings extensions and modifications across the state in the past 11 weeks).

Groundwater Levels:
GroundwaterWatch shows more than 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 (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 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 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, which aired on September 21. The link for this story can be found at: http://www.netnebraska.org/article/news/irrigation-drought-saves-crop-stresses-water-resources

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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