Nebraska Revised Statute 46-241

Chapter 46


Application for water; storage reservoirs; facility for underground water storage; eminent domain; procedure; duties and liabilities of owner.

(1) Every person intending to construct and operate a storage reservoir for irrigation or any other beneficial purpose or intending to construct and operate a facility for intentional underground water storage and recovery shall, except as provided in subsections (2) and (3) of this section and section 46-243, make an application to the department upon the prescribed form and provide such plans, drawings, and specifications as are necessary to comply with the Safety of Dams and Reservoirs Act. Such application shall be filed and proceedings had thereunder in the same manner and under the same rules and regulations as other applications. Upon the approval of such application under this section and any approval required by the act, the applicant shall have the right to construct and impound in such reservoir, or store in and recover from such underground water storage facility, all water not otherwise appropriated and any appropriated water not needed for immediate use, to construct and operate necessary ditches for the purpose of conducting water to such storage reservoir or facility, and to condemn land for such reservoir, ditches, or other facility. The procedure to condemn property shall be exercised in the manner set forth in sections 76-704 to 76-724.

(2) Any person intending to construct an on-channel reservoir with a water storage impounding capacity of less than fifteen acre-feet measured below the crest of the lowest open outlet or overflow shall be exempt from subsection (1) of this section as long as there will be (a) no diversion or withdrawal of water from the reservoir for any purpose other than for watering range livestock and (b) no release from the reservoir to provide water for a downstream diversion or withdrawal for any purpose other than for watering range livestock. This subsection does not exempt any person from the requirements of the Safety of Dams and Reservoirs Act or section 54-2425.

(3) Any person intending to construct a reservoir, holding pond, or lagoon for the sole purpose of holding, managing, or disposing of animal or human waste shall be exempt from subsection (1) of this section. This subsection does not exempt any person from any requirements of the Safety of Dams and Reservoirs Act or section 46-233 or 54-2425.

(4) Every person intending to modify or rehabilitate an existing storage reservoir so that its impounding capacity is to be increased shall comply with subsection (1) of this section.

(5) The owner of a storage reservoir or facility shall be liable for all damages arising from leakage or overflow of the water therefrom or from the breaking of the embankment of such reservoir. The owner or possessor of a reservoir or intentional underground water storage facility does not have the right to store water in such reservoir or facility during the time that such water is required downstream in ditches for direct irrigation or for any reservoir or facility holding a senior right. Every person who owns, controls, or operates a reservoir or intentional underground water storage facility, except political subdivisions of this state, shall be required to pass through the outlets of such reservoir or facility, whether presently existing or hereafter constructed, a portion of the measured inflows to furnish water for livestock in such amounts and at such times as directed by the department to meet the requirements for such purposes as determined by the department, except that a reservoir or facility owner shall not be required to release water for this purpose which has been legally stored. Any dam shall be constructed in accordance with the Safety of Dams and Reservoirs Act, and the outlet works shall be installed so that water may be released in compliance with this section. The requirement for outlet works may be waived by the department upon a showing of good cause. Whenever any person diverts water from a public stream and returns it into the same stream, he or she may take out the same amount of water, less a reasonable deduction for losses in transit, to be determined by the department, if no prior appropriator for beneficial use is prejudiced by such diversion.

(6) An application for storage and recovery of water intentionally stored underground may be made only by an appropriator of record who shows, by documentary evidence, sufficient interest in the underground water storage facility to entitle the applicant to the water requested.

Cross References

  • Safety of Dams and Reservoirs Act, see section 46-1601.


  • There is no statutory or regulatory requirement that the design of a dam exempt from the permit requirement of subsection (1) of this section by virtue of its impoundment capacity must include a passthrough device. Koch v. Aupperle, 274 Neb. 52, 737 N.W.2d 869 (2007).

  • Pondage, captured by reservoir during nonirrigation season, or from waters during irrigation season which are not subject to appropriation, is entitled to be held by a public power district for use in operation and maintenance of its power works. Platte Valley Irr. Dist. v. Tilley, 142 Neb. 122, 5 N.W.2d 252 (1942).

  • Damages recoverable in a condemnation proceeding must be based upon the value of the land in the condition it was at the time of the condemnation. In re Platte Valley Public Power & Irr. Dist., 137 Neb. 313, 289 N.W. 383 (1939).

  • Legislature contemplated the payment for, and not abatement of, damage from seepage arising from construction of permanent reserves. Applegate v. Platte Valley Public Power & Irr. Dist., 136 Neb. 280, 285 N.W. 585 (1939).

  • Defendant district was entitled to condemn right-of-way for transmission lines across plaintiffs' lands irrespective of boundary lines. Johnson v. Platte Valley Public Power & Irr. Dist., 133 Neb. 97, 274 N.W. 386 (1937).

  • Public power and irrigation districts are not authorized to take private property for public use without just compensation. State ex rel. Loseke v. Fricke, 126 Neb. 736, 254 N.W. 409 (1934).

  • Right of eminent domain, provided for in this section, cannot be exercised where purpose of proposed condemnation is to take part of one person's land, against his will, as site for reservoir from which to irrigate land of another, for his sole benefit. Vetter v. Broadhurst, 100 Neb. 356, 160 N.W. 109 (1916).