|Interim study suggested to evaluate benefits of restructuring NRDs|
State Senator Beau McCoy of Omaha introduced LR 181, a resolution to initiate an interim study to evaluate the restructuring of natural resources districts (NRDs).
“The study would answer the fundamental question of whether the structure of the NRDs can be modified to be more cost-effective while properly managing Nebraska’s natural resources,” said Senator McCoy.
The study would focus on the advantages of having an NRD encompass the entirety of a watershed, river basin or river. Currently there are 23 natural resources districts in the state and only 13 river basins.
“Cost-savings potential exists,” said McCoy, “by each individual NRD encompassing the full river basin and reducing the bureaucratic cost of maintaining 23 individuals NRDs.”
Additionally, with individual NRDs overlapping Nebraska’s river basins, McCoy said, the potential exists where current policy governing the state’s water resources are ambiguous, if not contradictory, depending on which NRD is governing which portion of the basin.
“The Legislature needs to know whether a consistent governing body for each river basin produces better policy and outcomes for agriculture, flood prevention, environmental quality and recreational opportunities for all Nebraskans,” stated McCoy.
An example of potential efficiencies and necessity of consistent policy is the Platte River Program, an initiative spurred by the federal government to encourage the three Platte River basin states, Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming to cooperate in the management of the water and other natural resources in the basin.
McCoy said the premise of the Platte River Program is parochial interests in each state resulted in unnecessary spending, and irresponsible use of resources.
“Within Nebraska’s boundaries, we have a responsibility to promote effective use of taxpayer money while ensuring that our public resources are managed with the interests of all Nebraskans in mind, not special interests,” said McCoy.
Brad Stevens in Sen. McCoy’s Lincoln office said Tuesday that LR 181 has not been referenced yet, but McCoy felt confident it would be handled by the Unicameral’s natural resources committee by the end of the session.