Lincoln water supply could be in trouble again

By: Bill Schammert

Winter may have brought us snow, but it wasn't enough of the moisture-rich white-stuff we needed to combat one of the worst droughts Nebraska has ever seen. 

“The fact of the matter is, we're starting at a lower point than we did last year,” Bob Swanson with the Nebraska Water Science Center said.

The entire state of Nebraska remains in a severe drought, with more than 75-percent of the state in an exceptional drought state, and it's expected to have an effect on water supplies.

“One of the things about Mother Nature, is it has the power to overwhelm whatever we can predict,” Swanson said.

Swanson says Lincoln's water supply comes from the Platte River, near Ashland.  It relies on the Loup and Elkhorn River Basins, but combined, the basins show a deficit for the Lower Platte.

Last year at this time, we were at or above normal levels.

It wasn't until last August that the capital city saw massive water restrictions, resulting in hundreds of violations.  And while Swanson won't predict when or if that will happen again, he says most of Nebraska's groundwater wells aren't rebounding.

“This year, we've seen many of those wells that haven't recovered at all.  It's a sign of just how depleted these aquifers are.”

But, it's not all bad news.  Swanson says some forecast models do show sings of hope.

“We are so close to being either wet or dry, that either one has a decent probability of happening.”