The Director of Natural Resources shall be qualified by training and business experience to manage and supervise the Department of Natural Resources. The director shall be a professional engineer as provided in the Engineers and Architects Regulation Act and have had at least five years' experience in a position of responsibility in irrigation work.
The Director of Natural Resources may employ such personnel, including legal and technical advisors, as necessary to carry out the duties required of the director.
The Director of Natural Resources shall adopt a seal. Copies of all records or other instruments in the Department of Natural Resources when certified by the department as true copies and bearing the seal thereof shall be received in any court as prima facie evidence of the original record or instruments.
(1) The Director of Natural Resources may adopt and promulgate rules and regulations for the Department of Natural Resources except to the extent such power is statutorily granted to the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission. The director shall administer rules and regulations adopted and promulgated by the commission.
(2) The rules, regulations, and orders of the Director of Water Resources, the Department of Water Resources, and the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission shall remain in effect unless changed or eliminated by the Director of Natural Resources or the Department of Natural Resources or by the commission to the extent such power is statutorily granted to the commission.
The Department of Natural Resources shall exercise the powers and perform the duties assigned to the Department of Water Resources prior to July 1, 2000. The Department of Natural Resources shall exercise the powers and perform the duties assigned to the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission prior to July 1, 2000, except as otherwise specifically provided.
The Director of Natural Resources and his or her duly authorized assistants shall have access at all reasonable times to all dams, reservoirs, hydroelectric plants, water measuring devices, and headgates, and other devices for diverting water, for the purpose of performing the duties assigned to the department.
(1) The Department of Natural Resources is given jurisdiction over all matters pertaining to water rights for irrigation, power, or other useful purposes except as such jurisdiction is specifically limited by statute. Such department shall adopt and promulgate rules and regulations governing matters coming before it. It may refuse to allow any water to be used by claimants until their rights have been determined and made of record. It may request information relative to irrigation and water power works from any county, irrigation, or power officers and from any other persons. It may have hearings on complaints, petitions, or applications in connection with any of such matters. Such hearings shall be had at the time and place designated by the department. The department shall have power to certify official acts, compel attendance of witnesses, take testimony by deposition as in suits at law, and examine books, papers, documents, and records of any county, party, or parties interested in any of the matters mentioned in this section or have such examinations made by its qualified representative and shall make and preserve a true and complete transcript of its proceedings and hearings. If a final decision is made without a hearing, a hearing shall be held at the request of any party to the proceeding if the request is made within thirty days after the decision is rendered. If a hearing is held at the request of one or more parties, the department may require each such requesting party and each person who requests to be made a party to such hearing to pay the proportional share of the cost of such transcript. Upon any hearing, the department shall receive any evidence relevant to the matter under investigation and the burden of proof shall be upon the person making the complaint, petition, and application. After such hearing and investigation, the department shall render a decision in the premises in writing and shall issue such order or orders duly certified as it may deem necessary.
(2) The department shall serve as the official agency of the state in connection with water resources development, soil and water conservation, flood prevention, watershed protection, and flood control.
(3) The department shall:
(a) Offer assistance as appropriate to the supervisors or directors of any subdivision of government with responsibilities in the area of natural resources conservation, development, and use in the carrying out of any of their powers and programs;
(b) Keep the supervisors or directors of each such subdivision informed of the activities and experience of all other such subdivisions and facilitate cooperation and an interchange of advice and experience between such subdivisions;
(c) Coordinate the programs of such subdivisions so far as this may be done by advice and consultation;
(d) Secure the cooperation and assistance of the United States, any of its agencies, and agencies of this state in the work of such subdivisions;
(e) Disseminate information throughout the state concerning the activities and programs of such subdivisions;
(f) Plan, develop, and promote the implementation of a comprehensive program of resource development, conservation, and utilization for the soil and water resources of this state in cooperation with other local, state, and federal agencies and organizations;
(g) When necessary for the proper administration of the functions of the department, rent or lease space outside the State Capitol; and
(h) Assist such local governmental organizations as villages, cities, counties, and natural resources districts in securing, planning, and developing information on flood plains to be used in developing regulations and ordinances on proper use of these flood plains.
If any county, party, or parties interested in irrigation or water power work affected thereby are dissatisfied with the decision or with any order adopted, such dissatisfied county, party, or parties may appeal to the Court of Appeals to reverse, vacate, or modify the order complained of. The procedure to obtain such reversal, modification, or vacation of any such decision or order upon which a hearing has been had before the Department of Natural Resources shall be governed by the same provisions in force with reference to appeals and error proceedings from the district court. The evidence presented before the department as reported by its official stenographer and reduced to writing, together with a transcript of the record and pleadings upon which the decision is based, duly certified in such case under the seal of the department, shall constitute the complete record and the evidence upon which the case shall be presented to the appellate court. The time for perfecting such appeal shall be limited to thirty days after the rendition of such decision or order, and the appellate court shall advance such appeal to the head of its docket.
The Department of Natural Resources may make surveys of streams showing location of possible water power developments and irrigation projects.
The Department of Natural Resources may conduct special projects for water data collection on behalf of other state agencies, political subdivisions, or federal agencies. Such data shall be public information. The department may charge a fee to cover in whole or in part the costs of collecting, analyzing, and publishing the data and such fees shall be deposited in the Department of Natural Resources Cash Fund.
The Department of Natural Resources Cash Fund is created. The State Treasurer shall credit to such fund such money as is specifically appropriated or reappropriated by the Legislature. The State Treasurer shall also credit such fund with payments, if any, accepted for services rendered by the department and fees collected pursuant to subsection (6) of section 46-606 and section 61-209. The funds made available to the Department of Natural Resources by the United States, through the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the Department of Agriculture or through any other agencies, shall be credited to the fund by the State Treasurer. Any money in the fund available for investment shall be invested by the state investment officer pursuant to the Nebraska Capital Expansion Act and the Nebraska State Funds Investment Act. The Department of Natural Resources shall allocate money from the fund to pay costs of the programs or activities of the department. The Director of Administrative Services, upon receipt of proper vouchers approved by the department, shall issue warrants on the fund, and the State Treasurer shall countersign and pay from, but never in excess of, the amounts to the credit of the fund. Transfers may be made from the fund to the General Fund at the direction of the Legislature.
The Department of Natural Resources may direct managers or operators of interstate ditches to construct and maintain suitable measuring devices at or near the state line in Nebraska. A manager or operator shall within thirty days after receipt of notice from the department construct and complete installation of such a measuring device and shall furnish daily gauge height reports to the department from the beginning to the end of the irrigation season, in such form and manner as recommended by the department. Failure of any manager or operator of an interstate ditch to comply with this section shall be a Class V misdemeanor.
The State of Nebraska is hereby divided into two water divisions, denominated water division No. 1 and water division No. 2, respectively.
Water division No. 1 shall consist of (1) all the lands of the state drained by the Platte Rivers and their tributaries lying west of the mouth of the Loup River and (2) all other lands lying south of the Platte and South Platte Rivers that may be watered from other superficial or subterranean streams not tributary to the Platte River.
Water division No. 2 shall consist of (1) all lands that may be watered from the Loup, White, Niobrara, and Elkhorn Rivers and their tributaries and (2) all other lands of the state not included in any other water division.
There shall be one or more division supervisors acting for the Department of Natural Resources to administer the public water of the state in the water divisions created by section 61-212. Such a division supervisor, acting for the department, shall have the immediate direction and control of the distribution of water in such manner as directed by the department.
The division supervisor or supervisors shall, under the direction of the Department of Natural Resources, see that the laws relative to the distribution of water are executed in accordance with the rights of priority of appropriation.
(1) The Water Resources Cash Fund is created. The fund shall be administered by the Department of Natural Resources. Any money in the fund available for investment shall be invested by the state investment officer pursuant to the Nebraska Capital Expansion Act and the Nebraska State Funds Investment Act.
(2) The State Treasurer shall credit to the fund such money as is (a) transferred to the fund by the Legislature, (b) paid to the state as fees, deposits, payments, and repayments relating to the fund, both principal and interest, (c) donated as gifts, bequests, or other contributions to such fund from public or private entities, (d) made available by any department or agency of the United States if so directed by such department or agency, and (e) allocated pursuant to section 81-15,175.
(3) The fund shall be expended by the department (a) to aid management actions taken to reduce consumptive uses of water or to enhance streamflows or ground water recharge in river basins, subbasins, or reaches which are deemed by the department overappropriated pursuant to section 46-713 or fully appropriated pursuant to section 46-714 or are bound by an interstate compact or decree or a formal state contract or agreement, (b) for purposes of projects or proposals described in the grant application as set forth in subdivision (2)(h) of section 81-15,175, and (c) to the extent funds are not expended pursuant to subdivisions (a) and (b) of this subsection, the department may conduct a statewide assessment of short-term and long-term water management activities and funding needs to meet statutory requirements in sections 46-713 to 46-718 and 46-739 and any requirements of an interstate compact or decree or formal state contract or agreement. The fund shall not be used to pay for administrative expenses or any salaries for the department or any political subdivision.
(4) It is the intent of the Legislature that three million three hundred thousand dollars be transferred each fiscal year from the General Fund to the Water Resources Cash Fund for FY2011-12 through FY2018-19, except that for FY2012-13 it is the intent of the Legislature that four million seven hundred thousand dollars be transferred from the General Fund to the Water Resources Cash Fund.
(5)(a) Expenditures from the Water Resources Cash Fund may be made to natural resources districts eligible under subsection (3) of this section for activities to either achieve a sustainable balance of consumptive water uses or assure compliance with an interstate compact or decree or a formal state contract or agreement and shall require a match of local funding in an amount equal to or greater than forty percent of the total cost of carrying out the eligible activity. The department shall, no later than August 1 of each year, beginning in 2007, determine the amount of funding that will be made available to natural resources districts from the Water Resources Cash Fund and notify natural resources districts of this determination. The department shall adopt and promulgate rules and regulations governing application for and use of the Water Resources Cash Fund by natural resources districts. Such rules and regulations shall, at a minimum, include the following components:
(i) Require an explanation of how the planned activity will achieve a sustainable balance of consumptive water uses or will assure compliance with an interstate compact or decree or a formal state contract or agreement as required by section 46-715 and the controls, rules, and regulations designed to carry out the activity; and
(ii) A schedule of implementation of the activity or its components, including the local match as set forth in subdivision (5)(a) of this section.
(b) Any natural resources district that fails to implement and enforce its controls, rules, and regulations as required by section 46-715 shall not be eligible for funding from the Water Resources Cash Fund until it is determined by the department that compliance with the provisions required by section 46-715 has been established.
(6) The Department of Natural Resources shall submit electronically an annual report to the Legislature no later than October 1 of each year, beginning in the year 2007, that shall detail the use of the Water Resources Cash Fund in the previous year. The report shall provide:
(a) Details regarding the use and cost of activities carried out by the department; and
(b) Details regarding the use and cost of activities carried out by each natural resources district that received funds from the Water Resources Cash Fund.
(7)(a) Prior to the application deadline for fiscal year 2011-12, the Department of Natural Resources shall apply for a grant of nine million nine hundred thousand dollars from the Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund, to be paid out in three annual installments of three million three hundred thousand dollars. The purposes listed in the grant application shall be consistent with the uses of the Water Resources Cash Fund provided in this section and shall be used to aid management actions taken to reduce consumptive uses of water, to enhance streamflows, to recharge ground water, or to support wildlife habitat in any river basin determined to be fully appropriated pursuant to section 46-714 or designated as overappropriated pursuant to section 46-713.
(b) If the application is granted, funds received from such grant shall be remitted to the State Treasurer for credit to the Water Resources Cash Fund for the purpose of supporting the projects set forth in the grant application. The department shall include in its grant application documentation that the Legislature has authorized a transfer of three million three hundred thousand dollars from the General Fund into the Water Resources Cash Fund for each of fiscal years 2011-12 and 2012-13 and has stated its intent to transfer three million three hundred thousand dollars to the Water Resources Cash Fund for fiscal year 2013-14.
(c) It is the intent of the Legislature that the department apply for an additional three-year grant that would begin in fiscal year 2014-15 if the criteria established in subsection (4) of section 81-15,175 are achieved.
(8) The department shall establish a subaccount within the Water Resources Cash Fund for the accounting of all money received as a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund as the result of an application made pursuant to subsection (7) of this section. At the end of each calendar month, the department shall calculate the amount of interest earnings accruing to the subaccount and shall notify the State Treasurer who shall then transfer a like amount from the Water Resources Cash Fund to the Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund.
The State Treasurer shall transfer $600,000 from the General Fund to the Water Resources Cash Fund on or before June 30, 2012, on such date as directed by the budget administrator of the budget division of the Department of Administrative Services, pursuant to section 61-218.
The State Treasurer shall transfer $600,000 from the General Fund to the Water Resources Cash Fund on or before June 30, 2013, on such date as directed by the budget administrator of the budget division of the Department of Administrative Services, pursuant to section 61-218.