Thanks to an unusually wet 2019, groundwater levels in the Lower Loup Natural Resources District have reached all-time highs. Following the record floods of the previous year, groundwater levels rose, on average, 1.82 feet. In Platte County, where record water levels were recorded last spring, the overall average actually decreased, on average, at -0.31 feet.
NRD General Manager Russ Callan said that the NRD data comes from annual spring monitoring of groundwater levels, a practice done by NRDs since their formation in 1972. Callan stated that NRD personnel have recorded groundwater levels at 444 sites and are also collecting long-term pressure transducers that record a reading every 8 hours.
He said that the groundwater level rises in 2019 and 2020 are notable, but said the past decade also includes significant declines, including the drought of 2012. The drop in groundwater levels during that drought took over 5 years to recover in some places. Additionally, Callan said that groundwater levels in the eastern portion of the lower Loup River Basin declined slightly this year when compared to Spring, 2019.
NRD Assistant Manager Tylr Naprstek said that many of the groundwater levels in the spring of 2020 were the highest readings ever recorded by the LLNRD, which began measurements in 1975. Despite the recovery, Naprstek stated that southern and western areas of the District had been seeing a longtime downward trend and only within the last 3 spring readings has the trend been broken. In other areas of the District, Naprstek stated that the trend has continued upward.
Naprstek said that the largest decline from the previous year’s reading was 3.62 feet located in Platte County, while the largest increase was 12.95 feet higher in eastern Nance County.
Callan said that the data from the NRD’s groundwater level monitoring and transducer report was available on the NRD web site, www.llnrd.org. He urged residents of the LLNRD to contact the District with any questions.