Nebraska Revised Statute 46-702

Chapter 46


Declaration of intent and purpose; legislative findings.

The Legislature finds that ownership of water is held by the state for the benefit of its citizens, that ground water is one of the most valuable natural resources in the state, and that an adequate supply of ground water is essential to the general welfare of the citizens of this state and to the present and future development of agriculture in the state. The Legislature recognizes its duty to define broad policy goals concerning the utilization and management of ground water and to ensure local implementation of those goals. The Legislature also finds that natural resources districts have the legal authority to regulate certain activities and, except as otherwise specifically provided by statute, as local entities are the preferred regulators of activities which may contribute to ground water depletion.

Every landowner shall be entitled to a reasonable and beneficial use of the ground water underlying his or her land subject to the provisions of Chapter 46, article 6, and the Nebraska Ground Water Management and Protection Act and the correlative rights of other landowners when the ground water supply is insufficient to meet the reasonable needs of all users. The Legislature determines that the goal shall be to extend ground water reservoir life to the greatest extent practicable consistent with reasonable and beneficial use of the ground water and best management practices.

The Legislature further recognizes and declares that the management, protection, and conservation of ground water and the reasonable and beneficial use thereof are essential to the economic prosperity and future well-being of the state and that the public interest demands procedures for the implementation of management practices to conserve and protect ground water supplies and to prevent the contamination or inefficient or improper use thereof. The Legislature recognizes the need to provide for orderly management systems in areas where management of ground water is necessary to achieve locally and regionally determined ground water management objectives and where available data, evidence, or other information indicates that present or potential ground water conditions, including subirrigation conditions, require the designation of areas with special regulation of development and use.

The Legislature finds that given the impact of extended drought on areas of the state, the economic prosperity and future well-being of the state is advanced by providing economic assistance in the form of providing bonding authority for certain natural resources districts as defined in section 2-3226.01 and in the creation of the Water Resources Cash Fund to alleviate the adverse economic impact of regulatory decisions necessary for management, protection, and conservation of limited water resources. The Legislature specifically finds that, consistent with the public ownership of water held by the state for the benefit of its citizens, any action by the Legislature, or through authority conferred by it to any agency or political subdivision, to provide economic assistance does not establish any precedent that the Legislature in sections 2-3226.01 and 61-218 or in the future must or should purchase water or provide compensation for any economic impact resulting from regulation necessary pursuant to the terms of Laws 2007, LB 701.



  • A look-back provision of a natural resources district's rules governing land irrigation had a substantial relation to the general welfare, because it allowed the natural resources district to ensure there is an adequate supply of ground water. Lingenfelter v. Lower Elkhorn NRD, 294 Neb. 46, 881 N.W.2d 892 (2016).