The Yonts Water Conference is full of information about water in the North Platte Valley of western Nebraska – how a huge surface-water irrigation project developed more than a century ago; the groundwater that it generates, now a major source of water for irrigation and other uses; how water is managed; and the 2020 outlook for water and weather during the crop season.
All this information can be accessed any time, for free, at the Yonts Conference website. The conference was conceived as a daylong event in Gering, but was moved online to provide the same information while allowing for social distancing.
The online conference has an added advantage: it can be accessed anytime, and as many times as desired. Videos, slide presentation, documents, and links to information about water resources in the North Platte Valley have been posted at: https://go.unl.edu/YontsConference.
The conference was named in honor of the late Dean Yonts, UNL Irrigation Specialist who helped start the annual North Platte Valley Water Policy Conference more than a decade ago. The Yonts conference was organized by the North Platte River Water for Ag Committee, made up of Extension, irrigation districts, NRD, agricultural producers, irrigation industry representatives, wildlife groups, ag lenders, and agribusinesses. Planning began several months ago.
The committee’s work, including the conference, is supported by an Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Water for Agriculture grant.
Additional presentations, links, and information will be posted as they become available. As of April 9, the page includes these items:
- 2020 Snowmelt projection from the Bureau of Reclamation. The page has a link to the most recent forecast from the Bureau, along with a link to the Bureau’s North Platte Project website.
- Long-term Weather Forecast for spring and summer 2020 from Don Day, Meteorologist with DayWeather.
- Update on groundwater regulation from John Berge, General Manager of the North Platte Natural Resources District.
- "Rising Water," a film by Scottsbluff film-maker Becky Hughes McMillen, is available to stream for free through May 1, 2020. A link is provided to Vimeo, where the film can be viewed. The free streaming period is co-hosted by the Midwest Theater of Scottsbluff in observance of World Water Day 2020.
- History of the North Platte Project: A basic history of and information about the North Platte River U.S. Bureau of Reclamation projects, which provide irrigation water, power generation, flood control and recreation, was assembled by Extension Educator Gary Stone. Website visitors can view the slide presentation online at their own pace by clicking on arrows.
- Update on recovery efforts from the 2019 Tunnel Collapse from Brad Anderson, Engineer with Anderson Consulting Engineers of Fort Collins, Colo.