NORFOLK, Nebraska (KCAU)– For the past few weeks, farmers have begun to plant their fields ahead of the growing season. However, in northeastern Nebraska, farmers are dealing with varying degrees of bad drought conditions.
The northeastern side of Nebraska is dealing with a D4 intensity drought, the worst drought conditions any state can be in.
“We did happen to catch right here about 70 hundredths of rain last night, so that was good. And we’re just gonna have to keep getting timely rains,” said Kurt Janke, a Nebraska farmer.
According to the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District, 2022 was the driest year for many parts of Nebraska.
“Precipitation is how groundwater aquifers are recharged. In Norfolk in 2022 the city of Norfolk received approximately half the total amount of average precipitation that it generally receives, so 13 inches as opposed to 26 inches,” said Brian Bruckner, with Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District.
Resource District officials use observation wells to monitor ground aquifer levels. About 3 quarters of the state’s 48 thousand wells experienced a decline in groundwater levels from the spring of 2021 to the spring of 2022.
“Year to date, Norfolk is still below average precipitation. Currently sitting at 2.5 inches below average on the year,” Bruckner said.
Carroll, Nebraska farmer Kurt Janke says he’s concerned about his year’s farming season.
“The worry is in this particular well in this area if there is a lot of pressure throughout the season we have to pump hard, it could put us in a not great position as far as the level,” said Janke
Brian Bruckner, with Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District, said they’re implementing their drought management program to reduce the impact of future drought events.
“Even/odd watering days, something to that effect, one side of the street waters by address. Something to that effect where they would limit who can water and when they can water,” said Bruckner.
“We can pump 13 inches for the season, so if it’s gonna be a long dry season we have to plan accordingly,” said Janke.
Bruckner says multiple towns and cities already have water restrictions, and he recommends Nebraskans pay attention to their community announcements for any changes regarding water usage.