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May 27, 2003

Water Utility Council Report
by Jerry Obrist, Lincoln Water System

The 98th Nebraska Legislature convened its 90-day session January 8, 2003, and adjourned May 30.

Unless otherwise noted, the following laws become effective 90 days after the Legislature adjourns, which would be August 29, 2003.

LB 30 (Schrock) Allows for a Class VI misdemeanor or civil penalty of not more than $5,000 per day for an intentional violation against a cease and desist order by a natural resources district to enforce the Nebraska Ground Water Management and Protection Act. Fines go to the permanent school fund. Current penalty carries a maximum fine of $500 with a minimum of $100.

Click here to see final bill as passed.

LB 31 (Schrock) Introduced on behalf of the Nebraska Health & Human Services, does the following:

Click here to see final bill as passed.

LB 34 (Schrock) Increase the application fee collected by natural resources districts from $17.50 to $50 for a permit to build a water well in a ground water management area.

Click here to see final bill as passed.

LB 35 (Schrock) Allows a natural resources district to permit a well to be built for a beneficial use of water in a management area. Under current law, "beneficial use" is limited to wells for domestic, agricultural, manufacturing or industrial use.

Click here to see final bill as passed.

LB 93 (Schrock) Allows natural resources districts in a Phased IV Ground Water Management Plan to use proper "rate" of fertilizer and pesticide applications as part of its best management practices.

Click here to see final bill as passed.

LB 94 (Schrock) Adopts "The Private Onsite Wastewater Treatment System Contractors Certification and System Registration Act." The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has rules and regulations governing the design, operation and maintenance of onsite wastewater systems.

This proposal relies on those standards for work done on onsite wastewater systems by documented professionals in the industry.

Onsite wastewater systems would need to be sited, laid out, built, reconstructed, altered, modified, repaired, inspected and pumped by certified professionals under DEQ rules and regulations.

Professionals would be certified and recertified periodically following industry work "entry" tests to ensure competence and understanding of construction standards by those certified professionals. After initial certification, certified professionals would attend continuing education courses to ensure continued competence and knowledge of new technologies.

The proposal establishes an industry advisory board to work with DEQ and its council to establish certification standards, requirements, examination details, continuing education programs and practices.

The proposal also establishes a program to register newly constructed or reconstructed systems on information provided by the certified professionals completing the construction or reconstruction. The registration program would provide future reference locators to identify the systems installed after the act is in force and would ensure such systems are installed by certified professionals.

The certification and system registration program is intended to be fully funded by fees from certification, examination, education and registration activities.

Click here to see final bill as passed.

LB 228 (Government, Military & Veterans Affairs) Adopts the Address Confidentiality Act to provide confidentiality of the address of a person who may be subject to domestic abuse or stalking. Such people may use the Secretary of State's office as their mailing address.

Click here to see final bill as passed.


LB 33 (Schrock) Eliminate the sunset clause to the Department of Natural Resources for costs of well registration updates, etc.

LB 123 (Schrock) Clarifies that the director of the Department of Natural Resources may consider any negative impacts withdrawal of groundwater may have on ground water supplies or on surface water needed to meet present or future demands for water, including demands to meet compliance requirements for any interstate compact or decree, or to fulfill provisions of any other formal state contract or agreement.

LB 141 (Schrock) Relates to irrigation, and provides appropriation and requirements for certain storage reservoir structures.

LB 145 (Schrock) Changes provisions relating to reservoir storage facilities for irrigation, underground water storage and recovery facilities, and livestock waste control facilities. Exempts those who intend to build an on-channel reservoir with a water storage impounding capacity of less than three acre-feet measured below the crest of the lowest open outlet or overflow, as long as there is no diversion or withdrawal of water from the reservoir and no release of water from the reservoir for the purpose of diversion or withdrawal.

LB 676 (Jensen, Tyson) Imposes a one-time $200 fee on tax exempt motor vehicles, which includes vehicles owned by political subdivisions.


LB 183 (Natural Resources Committee) & LB 527 (Louden, etc.) Allows the State of Nebraska to benefit from the transfer of its groundwater by imposing a transfer fee of 25 cents per gallon for water that is transferred outside a radius of 55 miles from the location of the well.

It also creates the Groundwater Transfer Fee Fund with one-half of the fees credited to Nebraska's general fund and one-half to the Groundwater Transfer Fee Fund. These fees will cover the costs of administering the fee, costs incurred by natural resources districts, costs for water studies directed and supervised by the director of Natural Resources.

Status: Public hearing held January 31.

LB 347 (Quandahl) Extends the time to file a written claim under the Political Subdivision's Tort Claim Act from the current one year to a two-year period. This reduces the protection provided by the act relating to the time claims can be filed.

Status: Public hearing held March 19.

LB 395 (Brown) Amends the Recreation Liability Act to remove political subdivisions from its protection. This provides some protection for landowners from liability who invite people to use property for recreational purposes without charge.

Status: Public hearing held March 19.

LB 473 (Jensen) Requires fluoridation of drinking water by cities and villages with 1,000 or more population.

Status: General File, February 28.

LB 453 (Aguilar) Imposes sales tax on engineering, architectural, legal and accounting services, effective October 1, 2003.

Status: Public hearing held February 20.

LB 664 (Beutler) Amends the Political Subdivision's Tort Claims Act to allow for adjustment of the liability limitation. The current limits are $1 million for injury to one person; $5 million for all claims arising from a single occurrence. As of July 1, 2007, the limitation would be adjusted in accordance with percentage increases in the consumer price index.

Status: Public hearing held March 19.


Senators also introduced resolutions to study during the interim session (Summer 2003):

LR 92 To examine Nebraska's plan for the continuity of government in periods of emergency. (Select Committee)

LR 99 To examine problems associated with disposal of used electronic equipment. (Natural Resources Committee)

LR 102 To examine the status of the Department of Natural Resources since the merger and issues regarding regulation of surface water and ground water. (Natural Resources Committee)

LR 114 To examine the cost effectiveness of upgrading the Nebraska Building Energy Conservation Standard. (Urban Affairs Committee)

LR 173 To consider steps that can be taken to enhance, support and develop the recreational value of Nebraska's lakes and rivers. (Natural Resources Committee)

When the dates, times and places for the public hearings on these resolutions are established, they will be posted on this website.

To see bill/law history, go the Unicameral's website: If you have any questions, please contact me at 402.441.7571; email:

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