Gov. Dave Heineman signed a new bill into law Wednesday to create the Water Sustainability Fund and address water management, water quality and flood control issues.
The fund will be used to contribute to multiple water supply management goals, assess flood controls, increase efficiency of water usage, enhance water quality and comply with interstate compacts and other agreements.
"This is noteworthy water legislation pertaining to Nebraska's long-term water utilization and planning," said Gov. Heineman, who was joined by state Sens. Tom Carlson and Mark Christensen. "Water is one of Nebraska's most important natural resources and this bill reflects our emphasis on water sustainability and water management."
"This is the most significant bill for agriculture and livestock production in my eight years in the legislature," added Sen. Carlson, of Holdrege, who introduced the bill in the Legislature.
As part of the bill, the Natural Resources Commission will be expanded from 16 to 27 members. Currently, three members are appointed by the governor and 13 are elected to represent river basins across Nebraska.
The commission will include a diversity of water users, including groundwater and surface water irrigators, public power districts and wildlife conservation groups, as well as others involved in agriculture.