Current Issue

WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT: Local Control and Local Solutions


Visit the NCF-Envirothon's website for the Current Issue's key topics, learning objectives and learning resources.  

Nebraska is fortunate to sit atop the Ogallala aquifer, one of the largest unconfined aquifers in the world.  This natural resource provides drinking water for most of the state and has enabled Nebraska to lead the country as the #1 irrigated state, helping to sustain agriculture as the states leading industry.  Managing and protecting this resource is the responsibility of Nebraska’s unique local Natural Resources Districts (NRDs).  While NRDs have maintained groundwater levels near pre-development levels, competing uses and variable supplies have placed additional management requirements on locally elected policy makers. 

Students will learn the concepts of how water is managed in Nebraska, and how the local Natural Resources District system works to address integrated water management challenges.  Key topics will include:

Understand the ability of Natural Resources Districts to implement local policy and local management to protect water users;

  • Understand administrative structures and processes for managing water uses and supplies;

  • Understand ground and surface water hydrology and connectivity;

  • Understand the economic, social and environmental impacts of projects and policy decisions.

Key Topics & Learning Objectives               

Water Resource Management: Local Control and Local Solutions


1: Understanding how groundwater and surface water systems function.
2: Understanding the importance of water quality and quantity as a foundation in a healthy ecosystem.
3: Understanding a variety of water quality indicators in different landscapes.
4: Understanding a variety of water quantity indicators in different landscapes.
5: Understanding how sustainable and best management practices enhance and protect water quality and quantity for humans and wildlife.
6: Understanding the differences of local, regional, and national systems that manage natural resources and the importance of each in water resources.
7: Understanding the social, economic, political impacts of natural resources management and decision making. 

KT #1

Objective 1. Knowledge of hydrologic cycle

Objective 2. Knowledge of groundwater and surface water interactions

Objective 3. How human activities effect groundwater and surface water

KT #2.

Objective 1. Understanding the connection between groundwater and surface water and how they affect each other

KT #3

Objective 1. Knowledge of water quality impacts such as agriculture practices, urban development, nitrates, toxic algae, etc.

Objective 2. Understand the indicators of water health, including physical, chemical and biological properties and its role in the hydrological system.

KT #4

Objective 1. Knowledge of water quantity impacts such as agriculture practices, urban development, groundwater levels

Objective 2. Understanding of stream gauges and groundwater maps.

KT #5

Objective 1. Understand the importance of moving toward sustainable practices to protect water quality and quantity.

Objective 2. Understand best management practices that improve water quality and quantity such as improved agriculture practices, urban planning and water efficiency.

Objective 3. Understand the role of technology: flow meters, observation wells, Airborne Electromagnetic (AEM) surveys, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) (drones, GIS, etc.), precision agriculture, etc.

KT #6

Objective 1. Knowledge of various conservation agencies including Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts, and how partners work together for conservation success.

Objective 2. Understanding Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts structure and what makes it unique from other conservation districts in the U.S.

KT #7

Objective 1. Describe the social, economic and political impacts of regulating water quality and quantity.

Objective 2. Understand the delicate balance behind decision making – funding projects, social responsibility, regulatory authority.


The Water Channel -  

Facts about water in Alberta - 

Protecting the quality of water in Alberta -  

Caring for our watersheds – 

What's a watershed (video) -  

Alberta Water Portal 

Alberta Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils (WPACs) - 

Alberta Lake Management Society (ALMS) - 

Alberta Water Council 

Cows and Fish (Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society) - 

Inside Education 

Hidden Water (groundwater video) -