61-402. Legislative findings and declarations.

The Legislature finds and declares as follows:

(1) The future vibrancy of the people, communities, and businesses of Nebraska depends on reliable sources of water;

(2) While it is in the state's best interest to retain control over its water supplies, much of the state's water resources are currently underutilized;

(3) In 2019, the state experienced historic flooding along the Platte River which caused loss of life and over one billion dollars in damage to private and public property and infrastructure;

(4) Well-planned flood control is critical to the future of the people, communities, and businesses of Nebraska;

(5) In light of the disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic and the trend toward a remote workforce around the country, people around the country are rethinking where they want to work, live, and raise a family. As people consider where to live, access to sustainable water resources and outdoor recreational opportunities will be important considerations in making Nebraska a competitive choice for the future;

(6) The state's lakes and rivers help Nebraskans enjoy the water resources in our state and make Nebraska an even more attractive place to live and raise a family;

(7) The state's water resources provide economic benefits to the people, communities, and businesses of Nebraska by helping to attract visitors from other states and boosting local economies;

(8) In 2021, the Legislature passed LB406, which established the Statewide Tourism And Recreational Water Access and Resource Sustainability Special Committee of the Legislature. The committee was tasked with conducting studies on:

(a) The need to protect public and private property, including use of levee systems, enhance economic development, and promote private investment and the creation of jobs along the Platte River and its tributaries from Columbus, Nebraska, to Plattsmouth, Nebraska;

(b) The need to provide for public safety, public infrastructure, land-use planning, recreation, and economic development in the Lake McConaughy region of Keith County, Nebraska; and

(c) The socioeconomic conditions, recreational and tourism opportunities, and public investment necessary to enhance economic development and to catalyze private investment in the region in Knox County, Nebraska, that lies north of State Highway 12 and extends to the South Dakota border and includes Lewis and Clark Lake and Niobrara State Park;

(9) After considerable study, the Statewide Tourism And Recreational Water Access and Resource Sustainability Special Committee identified potential opportunities within the floodway near the Platte River that could be used to build a combined reservoir of approximately three thousand six hundred surface acres, or greater, in or near a county having a population of at least one hundred thousand but not more than three hundred thousand inhabitants. Such a reservoir could be built without a dam of a Platte River channel and without negatively impacting any existing municipalities, their surrounding communities, or any economic development already occurring in such areas;

(10) It is in the public interest to construct a lake at or near this location. Such a lake would provide flood control by providing additional off-channel storage during flood events and public recreational opportunities that would benefit generations of Nebraskans, similar to the recreational opportunities provided by Lake McConaughy, Lewis and Clark Lake, and Eugene T. Mahoney State Park;

(11) In addition to the primary purposes of providing flood control and public recreational opportunities that will benefit the public, building a lake will provide the collateral benefit of economic development opportunities;

(12) It is in the public interest, and the purpose of the Jobs and Economic Development Initiative Act, that private parties contribute to the cost of constructing and developing the lake and that the state seek out donations and investments from private parties to fund such construction and development;

(13) It is in the public interest, and the purpose of the act, that the state (a) manage the construction and development of the lake in a manner that encourages private donations and investments, including through the use of public-private partnerships, (b) maintain sufficient oversight to protect the state's investment in the lake, and (c) retain ownership of the lake as an asset for Nebraskans; and

(14) It is in the public interest, and the purpose of the act, that the lake, and the land near or adjacent thereto, be developed in a thoughtful and planned manner by the state and be free from control of political subdivisions or municipalities to further the act's purposes of providing flood control, recreational opportunities, and orderly development of the project.

Source:Laws 2022, LB1023, ยง 2.
Effective Date: April 19, 2022