Nebraska Revised Statute 46-233

Chapter 46


Application to appropriate water; time of making; contents; procedure; priority date; notice; hearing; temporary permit; emergency use.

(1) The United States and every person intending to appropriate any of the public waters of the State of Nebraska shall, before (a) commencing the construction, enlargement, or extension of any works for such purpose, (b) performing any work in connection with such construction, enlargement, or extension, or (c) taking any water from any constructed works, make an application to the department for a permit to make such appropriation. A permit may be obtained to appropriate public waters for intentional underground water storage and recovery of such water. A public water supplier may make application to appropriate public waters for induced ground water recharge.

(2) The application shall be upon a form prescribed and furnished by the department without cost to an applicant. Such application shall set forth (a) the name and post office address of the applicant, (b) the source from which such appropriation shall be made, (c) the amount of the appropriation desired, as nearly as it may be estimated, (d) the location of any proposed work in connection with the appropriation, (e) the estimated time required for its completion, which estimated time shall include the period required for the construction of ditches, pumps, and other features or devices, (f) the time estimated at which the application of the water for the beneficial purposes shall be made, which time shall be limited to a reasonable time following the estimated time of completion of the work when prosecuted with diligence, (g) the purpose for which water is to be applied and (i) if for induced ground water recharge by a public water supplier, a statement of the times of the year when and location along a stream where flows for induced ground water recharge are proposed and (ii) if for irrigation, a description of the land to be irrigated by the water and the amount, and (h) such facts and supporting documentation as are required by the department which shall include, but not be limited to, the depth of all wells, the extent of the underlying aquifer, the expected rate of recharge, the minimum flow or flows necessary to sustain the well field throughout the reach identified, and the period of time that a well field would continue to meet minimal essential needs of the public water supplier when there is no flow as those factors relate to and are part of an evaluation of pertinent hydrologic relationships.

A public water supplier making application for induced ground water recharge may submit with its application a statement of the amount of induced ground water recharge water which the public water supplier presently uses as well as the amount of induced ground water recharge water it anticipates using in the next twenty-five-year period. Such statement shall also quantify the total amount of water the public water supplier presently uses from the well field as well as the total amount of water it anticipates using from the well field in the next twenty-five-year period.

(3) Upon receipt of an application containing the information set forth in this section, the department shall (a) make a record of the receipt of the application, (b) cause the application to be recorded in its office, and (c) make a careful examination of the application to ascertain whether it sets forth all the facts necessary to enable the department to determine the nature and amount of the proposed appropriation. If such an examination shows the application in any way defective, it shall be returned to the applicant for correction, with a statement of the correction required, within ninety days after its receipt. Ninety days shall be allowed for the refiling of the application, and in default of such refiling, the application shall stand dismissed. Except as provided in subsection (4) of this section, if so filed and corrected as required within such time, the application shall, upon being accepted and allowed, take priority as of the date of the original filing, subject to compliance with the future provisions of the law and the rules and regulations thereunder. During the pendency of any application or upon its approval, the department, upon proper authorization and request of the applicant, may assign the application a later priority date.

(4) For public water supplier wells in existence on September 9, 1993, the priority date assigned to an application for induced ground water recharge made by a public water supplier shall be:

(a) June 27, 1963, for water supply wells and facilities constructed and placed in service on or before June 27, 1963;

(b) January 1, 1970, for water supply wells and facilities constructed and placed in service on or after June 28, 1963, and on or before December 31, 1969;

(c) January 1, 1980, for water supply wells and facilities constructed and placed in service on or after January 1, 1970, and on or before December 31, 1979;

(d) January 1, 1990, for water supply wells and facilities constructed and placed in service on or after January 1, 1980, and on or before December 31, 1989; and

(e) January 1, 1993, for water supply wells and facilities constructed and placed in service on or after January 1, 1990, and on or before September 9, 1993.

(5) Prior to taking action on an application for induced ground water recharge, the director shall publish notice of such application at the applicant's expense at least once each week for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the area of the stream segment and also in a newspaper of statewide circulation. The notice shall state that any person having an interest may, in writing, object to the application. Any such objection shall be filed with the department within two weeks after the final publication of the notice.

(6) After the director has accepted the application made under subsection (2) of this section as a completed application and published notice as required under subsection (5) of this section, the director shall, if he or she determines that a hearing is necessary, set a time and place for a public hearing on the application. The hearing shall be held within reasonable proximity to the area in which the wells are or would be located. At the hearing the applicant shall present all hydrological data and other evidence supporting its application. All interested parties shall be allowed to testify and present evidence relative to the application.

(7) An unapproved application pending on August 26, 1983, may be amended to include appropriation for intentional underground water storage and recovery of such water.

(8) Application may be made to the department for a temporary permit to appropriate water. The same standards for granting a permanent appropriation shall apply for granting such temporary permit except when the temporary permit is for road construction or other public use construction and the amount of water requested is less than ten acre-feet in total volume. For temporary permits for public-use construction, the applicant shall include on the application the location of the diversion, the location of use, a description of the project, the amount of water requested, and the person to contact. Temporary permits for public-use construction and for less than ten acre-feet in total volume may be granted without any determination of unappropriated water and shall be considered to be in the public interest. The requirement of filing a map or plans with the application for a temporary permit may be waived at the discretion of the director. In granting a temporary permit, the director shall specify a date on which the right to appropriate water under the permit shall expire. Under no circumstances shall such date be longer than one calendar year after the date the temporary permit was granted. Temporary permits shall be administered during times of shortage based on priority. The right to appropriate water shall automatically terminate on the date specified by the director on the temporary permit without further action by the department.

(9) Water may be diverted from any stream, reservoir, or canal by any fire department or emergency response services for the purpose of extinguishing a fire in progress in an emergency without obtaining a permit from the department. The installation of a dry well for this purpose is allowed without the prior permission of the department, but the department shall be informed of any such installation, its location, and the party responsible for its installation and maintenance within thirty days after the installation.



  • This section does not supplant the common-law standard of standing. Metropolitan Utilities Dist. v. Twin Platte NRD, 250 Neb. 442, 550 N.W.2d 907 (1996).

  • An application to divert water is only a request for permission to appropriate public waters of the state. In re Applications A-16027 et al., 242 Neb. 315, 495 N.W.2d 23 (1993).

  • An application for a water permit under this section is not required until actual construction work at the site is commenced. Winter v. Lower Elkhorn Nat. Resources Dist., 206 Neb. 70, 291 N.W.2d 245 (1980).

  • Requirements for appropriation of water for power purposes are met when appropriator has constructed power facilities and is ready and willing to deliver hydroelectric energy to users upon demand. Hickman v. Loup River P. P. Dist., 176 Neb. 416, 126 N.W.2d 404 (1964).

  • Approval of organization of district does not determine right to appropriation of water. Ainsworth Irr. Dist. v. Bejot, 170 Neb. 257, 102 N.W.2d 429 (1960); Ainsworth Irr. Dist. v. Harms, 170 Neb. 228, 102 N.W.2d 416 (1960).

  • The federal government has a right to appropriate flood and unused waters in connection with any irrigation project constructed by the United States. Frenchman Valley Irr. Dist. v. Smith, 167 Neb. 78, 91 N.W.2d 415 (1958).

  • Appropriated waters should be measured at the point of diversion. Loup River Public Power District v. North Loup River Public Power & Irr. Dist., 142 Neb. 141, 5 N.W.2d 240 (1942).

  • Property rights for irrigation purposes 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).

  • Under former law, Department of Roads and Irrigation was given discretionary power in acting upon applications to so limit the grant that it would not be detrimental to public welfare. Kirk v. State Board of Irrigation, 90 Neb. 627, 134 N.W. 167 (1912).

  • Under former law, judgment of Department of Roads and Irrigation on matters within its jurisdiction could not be collaterally attacked, and earlier section was not applicable to case where land was under ditch already constructed of sufficient capacity to water same. State v. Several Parcels of Land, 80 Neb. 424, 114 N.W. 283 (1907).

  • Application which does not contain description of land nor describe location of canal is not good. Farmers Canal Co. v. Frank, 72 Neb. 136, 100 N.W. 286 (1904).