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Papillion Creek system to get master plan
By Jeffrey Robb, Omaha World-Herald



The Papillion Creek system running through metro Omaha can be cleaner, safer and greener, a coalition of local governments says.

To make that happen, the partnership is creating a master plan for the Papillion Creek watershed.

Dubbed Watershed By Design, the effort is an environmental twist on the recent Omaha By Design initiative. The two-year effort, led by the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District, will start Wednesday with a forum to explain the goals and gather public input.

The partnership is wading into potential controversy by raising such issues as more stringent zoning rules for construction or new dam sites.

But Marlin Petermann, the district's assistant general manager, said the focus will be on broad issues of water quality and water flow.

"We hope to be looking at the big picture here," he said.

The partnership -- which includes Omaha, eight other area cities and Douglas and Sarpy Counties -- formed in 2001 to meet federal stormwater regulations. Now it wants to create a management plan for the 402-square-mile watershed.

The partnership lacks unified support in the watershed. In Washington County, the County Board pulled out, feeling left out of the district's discussion of building up to 10 new lakes at a cost of $186 million.

Although opposition to new Washington County lakes has grown there, the resources district is looking at the dam sites out of concern that heavy development has raised the risk of dangerous floods.

Petermann said dam sites are among the topics the partnership will examine. It will study a variety of changes, with a major focus on incorporating Omaha By Design's ideas throughout the watershed.

The overall goal is to create uniform rules throughout the area.

"We're all impacted by each other in this watershed," Petermann said. "We should have a level playing field no matter where you are."

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