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Water Utility Council: Legislative Preview

The Water Utility Council is monitoring proposed legislation emerging at the Unicameral this year. At this stage, the only item that appears to be of interest is LR4, which we intend to monitor as it progresses. While no other legislation appears to affect our industry at this stage, we will remain attentive.

The current language of LR4, "Interim study to explore if the development of a more comprehensive water quality study is needed", follows:

PURPOSE: Nitrate-nitrogen in the waterways is an ongoing issue for this state, as nitrates increasingly invade both our public and private water supplies. Human activity continues to introduce nitrates into waterways, with fertilizers, septic systems, animal waste, and nitrogen-bearing minerals in the soil all contributing to the problem. With the growing use of fertilizer, increasing livestock numbers, and expanding use of septic tanks, there is cause to be concerned about the elevated levels of nitrate-nitrogen and other chemicals impacting water quality in the state. Chemicals that are found in the waterways include chromium and chromium compounds and developmental toxins, such as lead and lead compounds, nitrates, phosphorous, and atrazine. Harmful bacteria, including E. coli, have also been detected. As commercial growth compounds the problem, it is important to understand what solutions or options may be available that can provide a cost-effective resolution to help protect Nebraska residents from negative health impacts.

This interim study shall specifically explore if the development of a more comprehensive water quality study is needed and if a nutrient management plan to improve water quality would benefit this state, including an analysis of best grasses for filtration and the best plantings for forests and crops in buffer areas.


1. That the Natural Resources Committee of the Legislature shall be designated to conduct an interim study to carry out the purposes of this resolution.

2. That the committee shall upon the conclusion of its study make a report of its findings, together with its recommendations, to the Legislative Council or Legislature.