River basin by river basin, Nebraska needs a comprehensive, statewide approach to pursuing sustainability of its water resources, an Omaha state senator told the Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee in a midday public hearing Tuesday.
State Sen. Steve Lathrop is the sponsor of LB1074 and now Amendment 2360, which would overhaul the original legislation updating the state’s water laws. He told the committee that if state government is going to pursue balance between water supplies and usage, then it needs to provide not just funding, but also a planning framework to draw the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, local natural resources districts, and other stakeholders into new conversations with one another.
“I can tell you either we have a problem or we don’t,” Lathrop said at the end of the two-hour hearing at the Nebraska State Capitol monitored via Internet by the Tribune. “But if we have a problem, we need a two-pronged approach to resolving it.”
Among those interested in Nebraska water policy, Lathrop’s proposal is controversial to say the least. Tuesday’s hearing attracted eight supportive witnesses, 17 opponents and six who testified in a neutral position.
“I think this is a record,” said the committee chairman, state Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege, of the number of witnesses stepping forward to comment.