City hosts open house on Lincoln’s $1.4 billion project for second water source

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – If Lincoln’s population keeps growing at its current rate, our main source of water, the Platte River, is not going to cut it.

The city held an open house on Tuesday to educate and answer questions about a second water source: the Missouri River.

City leaders and water experts say that what we have now as a water supply will only last for the next 25 years.

“Distance was our friend” in finding the second water source said Elizabeth Elliot, director of the Lincoln Transportation and Utilities Department. “The Missouri River allows us to have a redundant treatment plant, a redundant water source.”

The council made its recommendation in mid-January, after a study that began in August.

SEE ALSO: City of Lincoln decides to use Missouri River as second water source

The group spent nearly 40 hours over about nine months evaluating all 14 options. The goal: to determine the most reliable solution for the city of Lincoln.

“We made sure to look at all possible alternatives,” Elliot said. “Now the seven we ruled out pretty quickly and easily either had quality issues — too many nitrates, those types of things — or quantity issues, there just wasn’t enough to get us to 2075 and beyond.”

On Tuesday, it was time to bring the final answer, backed by Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird, to the people.

The open house featured several posters with the history of Lincoln’s water system and more on where the board plans to go with this next.

Some that attended shared concern about the $1.4 billion price tag and the more than 20 years it would take to complete something like this.

But others said this need has been there for a while.

“The water supply for Lincoln is a big deal,” said Marty Link, former water quality director for the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy. “We’re a growing city, and the Platte wellfield isn’t going to last forever. It’s pretty limited into what it can continue to provide. Going over to the Missouri River, which seems to be their first choice, that’s probably a pretty good option.”

To pay for the project, officials are hoping for money from the city, state and federal governments.

Next steps after the open house include engineers searching for a spot along the Missouri River to start a wellfield.

For more information on the project, visit

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