Friday, October 19, 2012

Surface Water and Groundwater Regulation

In Nebraska, Conflict Develops Over Water Appropriations both Above-ground and Below
By Aaron John

Nebraska is not only in a conflict over water with other states, like Kansas and Colorado, but there is also conflict within the state over water appropriations.  Groundwater and surface water users are finding themselves in a fight over who has claim to Nebraska’s water resources.  Irrigation water is an essential element of the Nebraskan economy and some irrigators are feeling like the water has been taken literally right from under their feet.

As Nebraska water regulation developed there was little need to regulate groundwater use until 1949 when a Texas farmer changed the whole agriculture economy.  That year, Frank Zybach invented a new way to distribute water to his farm fields known as center-pivot irrigation.  This revolutionary new tactic made it possible for farmers to water crops using a groundwater well even when the field was not close to a stream or irrigation canal.

Through the proliferation of center-pivot irrigation systems in Nebraska and the lack of an adequate mechanism to reconcile the two systems or water use, Nebraskan farmers are finding out that water use doesn't always abide by the legal framework legislators attribute to watershed management.

Under Nebraska law, surface water users, those that use the water that is above ground, are regulated under a “first in time, first in right” system known as the prior appropriation system.  A prior appropriation system regulates water users by the date in which they obtained a permit to use the water.  As long as the water is being used for the same purpose, like agricultural irrigation, than the user with the most senior use permit is allowed to divert enough water to satisfy the limits of their permit.

The prior appropriation system is limited by three main distinctions. First, the system only applies to natural streams of the state and does not include drainage ditches.  Secondly, differing uses of water are governed by a priority system whereby water used for domestic use carries the highest priority.  After domestic use, agricultural uses take precedence over industrial or manufacturing uses.  Finally, the prior appropriation system applies only to surface water users and not groundwater users.

Groundwater users, those that pull water up from below the surface, are regulated by a reasonable use system.  Much like the surface water system, groundwater use gives first preference to domestic water users over agricultural users.  Although, when two agricultural groundwater users are in conflict, the rule of reasonable use regulates their consumption.

The tension between the prior appropriation and the reasonable use systems develops when hydrologically connected groundwater and surface water becomes over appropriated.  In some areas of Nebraska, farmers are finding out that when a groundwater well is situated close enough to a river basin the well begins to pull subsurface water from under the basin and causes the surface water to fill in this depletion.  Surface water users are claiming that groundwater wells are literally taking the water right out from underneath their feet.

Surface water users are calling for a regulatory system recognizing the need to address hydrologically connected watersheds.  Currently, the Department of Natural Resources regulates surface water use and Natural Resource Districts regulate groundwater use.  Surface water users are claiming that there needs to be a regulatory system that will ensure that their own water supply is not being taken from them while ensuring that both groundwater and surface water users are able to use water resources efficiently.   

Friday, May 25, 2012

Here's a great video of one of the concerts from Hangout

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Digital Music Greatest Hits

Ok, so I've accepted this whole new music industry that incorporates online media. I stand completely behind sharing music online because I think it puts the control more in the artists' hands. Some people download music for free or listen to it on pandora,, youtube, whatever. I think this is fine if you give some support to the band and the industry in general. One way of giving to the band is to go see them live. This is the avenue by which I've chosen to give most of my support to bands. I love live music and I think digital media has helped to make live music more enjoyable and profitable.

I listen to Phish quite a bit and I think they have a great model. You buy a ticket to the show, have a great time, and then you get a free download of the show from phish live. This gives you a soundboard professional quality recording of the show you actually saw (and maybe don't remember for various reasons). Phish allows their phans to then take these recordings and trade with other phans in accordance with their policies. This I think helps build and sustain a pretty nice community of hippies.

Another way digital music has made live performances better is that it lets the band and users decide what songs are hits and worth listening to. I started thinking about this the other day when I started looking at some of the acts that I haven't heard that I will see at the hangout festival this summer. Instead of going to their website or trying to listen to them on the radio I went to youtube. There I found a wealth of music with comments and reviews from everyday listeners like myself. I think this allows people to decide what songs are the best and give a great snapshot of an artist.

This is where the greatest hits idea comes from. Phish does not really have "greatest hits" albums, but everyone knows the best jams. Because I can get live shows from bands I have never heard of before I can get a sense of how the concert will be and what songs a band loves to play. I love the fact that I can look through setlists and decide what songs will likely be played and listen to them. If I like it than I'll try out some more of their music, if I don't like it so much than at least I gave it a try and I know that I actually listened to what the artist wants to say about themselves instead of what some industry exec whats me to think about the band.

Please do not interpret my post to be authorizing or endorsing 'pirating' or any other illegal activity. I just think a new music industry is emerging and I'm excited to see where it heads. For me, I'm gonna try and give bands the benefit of the doubt. When I listen to a new band I've never heard I'm gonna listen to the songs that the band wants people to hear and what other listeners think are their best songs. In this respect, a new 'greatest hits' designation takes form shaped by the band and user input. That excites me.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Long time, no see

Alright, its been a while since I've posted, I know.  But I have a whole new set of interesting topics to discuss and I just got the mobile app for blogger so hopefully I will be more diligent. Discussions to follow.......