What is your role in Nebraska’s water story?

Nebraska has a unique water management approach. Many Nebraskans are directly involved in local decision making. Whether a farmer or rancher making day-to-day water management decisions, stakeholders investing time in water management planning, citizens making an effort to conserve water, or agency staff collecting water data, we all have a role in Nebraska’s water story.

The Nebraska Watershed Aquifer Virtual Education System (WAVES) is devoted to Nebraskans who are:

Click a link above or scroll below to learn more. In just a few minutes you can learn about water topics relevant to everyday life in Nebraska.

Water Management

At the heart of Nebraska’s water management are the local Natural Resources Districts (NRDs). But NRDs cooperate with many other entities and the processes are sometimes complex. We are working collectively with state agencies to help you understand how and why water resources are managed. You can get started by viewing 3-6 minute videos about groundwater resources and water quality planning via the links below. You’ll quickly learn about the Integrated Management Planning process and nonpoint source pollution in Nebraska.

Interested in learning more about water? You can access Interactive Learning Modules and Water Research Stories below.

How Water Moves

Interactive learning modules cover basic information about how water and pollutants move through and beneath Nebraska’s watersheds.

Modules may be completed in any order, but are listed in order from more basic to more complex. To start a module, just click on the title image.

After completing each module, please consider sharing your feedback through the survey links.

What is a watershed, and how does watershed delineation help us manage water resources? Learn key watershed characteristics. Identify key stakeholders to involve in watershed management planning. (Send us feedback.)

Groundwater Quantity Educational Module 1

Learn the basic water balance components for a groundwater system. Use water data and groundwater maps to determine whether a groundwater system is in balance. (Send us feedback.)

Groundwater Surface Water Interactions Educational Module 2

How do streams and groundwater interact? Learn how groundwater and surface water levels affect water movement, and understand how pumping can impact streamflow. (Send us feedback.)

Link to interactive learning on groundwater nitrate

Have you ever wondered why groundwater nitrate concentrations vary in aquifers? One reason is that there are substantial lag times between groundwater quality changes and the human activities that cause them. These lags can cause distinct patterns of groundwater age and quality in aquifers. This module introduces the concept of groundwater age and how age information can be used to understand groundwater variables, including nitrate and recharge.

Water Research Stories

Are you interested in the latest water research in Nebraska? Scroll below to see the stories behind water research. These stories include major findings about streams, groundwater and the interaction of these water resources.

Do red (rust-stained) pivots indicate lower nitrate concentrations? Click the image above to find out.
Groundwater feeds Sandhills streams, but what journey does it take along the way? Click the image above to find out.
Click the image above to learn about how groundwater quality is affecting surface water quality in the Bazile Creek watershed in northeast Nebraska.

Funding and Awards

We are also grateful for the following recognition:

1. National Winner of the Communications Award for Educational Video Recordings from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents for McCullough, C., Pekarek, K., and Gilmore, T.E. (2022). Nitrate in Nebraska -The Basics. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9koZIifdIGY

2. American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) Educational Aids Blue Ribbon Award for Pilot Watershed Science Curriculum for Natural Resources Districts, ASABE Annual International Meeting, Detroit, MI. July 29-Aug 1, 2018. Team members: T.E. Gilmore, J. Korus, D. Martin, K. Pekarek, E. Ingram, L. Pennisi