Nebraska Revised Statute 46-231

Chapter 46


Amount and priority of appropriation; determination; limitation of amount; storage water.

Each appropriation shall be determined in its priority and amount by the time at which it is made and the amount of water which the works are constructed to carry. An appropriator shall at no time be entitled to the use of more than he or she can beneficially use for the purposes for which the appropriation has been made, and the amount of any appropriation made by means of enlargement of the distributing works shall be determined in like manner.

An allotment from the natural flow of streams for irrigation shall not exceed one cubic foot per second of time for each seventy acres of land and shall not exceed three acre-feet in the aggregate during one calendar year for each acre of land for which such appropriation has been made, and an allotment shall not exceed the least amount of water that experience may indicate is necessary, in the exercise of good husbandry, for the production of crops. Such limitations do not apply to storage waters or to water appropriations transferred pursuant to sections 46-2,122 to 46-2,125 and 46-2,127 to 46-2,129.

When storage water is being used in addition to the natural flow, the person in charge of the ditch or canal shall, upon his or her request and within twenty-four hours thereof, be notified in writing by the user of such storage waters of the time of withdrawal from natural streams to be distributed according to law.

When an appropriation is for irrigation purposes and the amount is so small that a proper distribution and application is impractical, as much water as the applicant can use without waste may be allotted for a limited time so fixed by the department as to give each appropriator his or her just share without violating other rights, so long as (1) the volume of water used in a twenty-four-hour period does not exceed the amount of water that would otherwise have been allowed at the approved fixed continuous rate for a twenty-four-hour period or (2) the volume of water used in a seven-day, Monday-through-Sunday period does not exceed the amount of water that would otherwise have been allowed at the approved fixed continuous rate for a seven-day period. The department shall determine schedules among appropriators to assure that other rights are not violated.


  • Laws 1919, c. 190, tit. VII, art. V, div. 2, § 11, p. 837;
  • C.S.1922, § 8430;
  • Laws 1929, c. 133, § 1, p. 486;
  • C.S.1929, § 81-6311;
  • R.S.1943, § 46-231;
  • Laws 1987, LB 140, § 5;
  • Laws 1993, LB 789, § 1;
  • Laws 1995, LB 99, § 15;
  • Laws 2000, LB 900, § 103.


  • A user may not appropriate water without a valid permit specifically defining the source of the appropriation. Northport Irr. Dist. v. Jess, 215 Neb. 152, 337 N.W.2d 733 (1983).

  • Property rights in water for irrigation consist not alone in the amount of, but also in the priority of, the appropriation. Vonburg v. Farmers Irr. Dist., 132 Neb. 12, 270 N.W. 835 (1937).

  • Appropriator takes subject to rights of all prior appropriators, and cannot infringe upon their privileges. Farmers Canal Co. v. Frank, 72 Neb. 136, 100 N.W. 286 (1904); Crawford Co. v. Hathaway, 67 Neb. 325, 93 N.W. 781 (1903).