Through the years, politicians, economists, farmers and many other people familiar with Nebraska have often referred to irrigation as the “lifeblood” of the state’s economy. While the state is considered rich in water resources, both surface water and groundwater, care must be taken to conserve and protect this precious resource for future generations.
Center pivots, one of the most efficient tools farmers can use to irrigate their crops, are used in large numbers in the Central District’s service area. By 2005, more than 250 pivots were taking water from Central’s canal system, instead of tapping into the area’s groundwater supply.
More than 8 million acres in Nebraska are irrigated, approximately 7 million from groundwater sources and about 1 million with surface water. Conflict over available water supplies is inevitable, making integrated management of water resources critical for the future of agriculture in the state. At the same time, water demands for municipal and industrial use, for recreation, and for wildlife habitat are increasing.
Meeting these demands is difficult, particularly during times of drought. Much of the Great Plains and mountain states have been experiencing severe drought conditions since 2000, which makes wise management, conservation, and stewardship of water resources even more important.