As many of you know, in a state that’s heavily involved in agricultural production, understanding these rights is essential. But before we dive in, let’s journey through a brief history of water rights in Nebraska.
Nebraska, with its vast stretches of fertile land, has a rich history of agricultural production. However, this wouldn’t be possible without the state’s abundant water resources, primarily the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the world’s largest underground water tables.
The development and use of water in Nebraska led to the evolution of water rights policies tailored to the state’s unique needs:
In the Cornhusker State, water rights hold particular significance due to the state’s agricultural prominence. Here’s what every Nebraskan buyer and seller should be aware of:
Nebraska Surface Water: First-in-Time Rule
Nebraska’s surface waters, essential to its heritage and economy, are governed by the Appropriative First-in-Time, First-in-Right Rule. Stemming from the state constitution, this principle dictates water diversion based on the date the water right was obtained. The priority system ensures that during shortages, entities with earlier water rights get precedence.
Groundwater and Correlative Rights
Nebraska’s Correlative Rights oversee groundwater usage. Landowners can tap into aquifers for beneficial purposes under public management. Notably:
Evolution of Natural Resources Districts
Nebraska underwent a significant shift in 1972, transitioning from Soil and Water Conservation Districts to the creation of Natural Resources Districts (NRD’s). This change materialized after the passage of LB 1357. The authority to regulate groundwater use was later bestowed upon the NRD’s in 1975 with LB 577.
The Unicameral’s LB 1106 in 1985 compelled NRD’s to formulate groundwater management plans for water quality and quantity. Each plan, greenlit by the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, outlined individual NRD’s strategies to maintain water quality and control groundwater usage.
Nebraska Chemigation Act
1986 saw the inception of the Nebraska Chemigation Act (LB 284) aimed at protecting water quality. The subsequent year brought about Title-195, which mandated safety gear, chemigator training, and equipment inspections for individual irrigation systems.
Learn More about the History of Nebraska Water Policies Here
For Nebraskans, understanding the intricacies of irrigation and water rights isn’t just academic – it’s practical and deeply influential on the state’s economy and way of life. As always, when considering land transactions, it’s imperative to consult with local experts who are familiar with the state’s unique landscape.
Here at Marshall Land Brokers & Auctioneers, we’re well-versed in Nebraska’s water rights landscape. If you’re considering a land transaction in our great state, let our expertise guide you through the process.