Water Wells Not Properly Abandoned Pose Hazards to Water Quality, People and Animals

Unused water wells left unsecure are a hazard to water quality, people, livestock, and pets. The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District (Papio NRD) is aiming to help educate landowners within its six-county area of the importance of abandoning unused wells, as well the cost-share program it provides to help with the associated expense.

Wells that aren’t properly abandoned provide a pipeline to groundwater and can be easily polluted with chemicals, fertilizers, and other contaminates. They can also pose safety risks to people and animals that may not see the wells and become trapped or potentially seriously injured.

“To help eliminate or reduce these hazards and assist landowners with the cost of abandoning unused wells, the Papio NRD provides the Well Abandonment Program,” said Terry Schumacher, land and water programs coordinator for the Papio NRD.

The Well Abandonment Program provides cost-share at a rate of 75% of the total eligible costs with a maximum of $750 for domestic drilled wells; $1,000 for dug wells; and $1,500 for city, irrigation, commercial or municipal wells.

Ed Thiele, project engineer for Habitat for Humanity of Omaha, took part in the program, as the organization is developing sites in Sarpy and Douglas counties to build new homes. “We decommissioned three wells in Sarpy County and two in Douglas County,” said Thiele.

“Obviously, we want to make sure the land is safe before construction starts and families move in. The Papio NRD’s cost-share program was of tremendous value for us on many fronts and I would most definitely recommend it to others,” said Thiele.

Eligible costs of the program include pulling rods and pump, filling cistern, chlorination, sand, bentonite, plug, and concrete. A State of Nebraska licensed well contractor, driller or pump installer must complete the abandonment to proper Department of Natural Resources rules and regulations.

“It’s really a win-win opportunity,” said Schumacher. “Our program offers landowners and others, like Habitat for Humanity, significant financial assistance to help protect our drinking water, groundwater, the public and make the process as easy as possible.”

For more information, please contact one of our Field Office representatives in your county:

Washington, Douglas & Sarpy counties: Kalani Fortina at 402-426-4782 ext. 3
Burt County: Deb Ward at 402-374-1920 ext. 3
Thurston County: Tamara Tipton at 402-846-5655
Dakota County: Mahkenna Koinzan at 402-494-4949



Tree Seedlings Available to Order


Papio NRD staff planting a windbreak in Washington County.

Landowners – it’s tree/shrub seedling time!

The Papio NRD is accepting orders for tree/shrub seedlings now through February 23rd. The seedlings are perfect for windbreaks or wildlife habitat planting.

Through the Papio NRD tree program, landowners purchase bare-root seedlings for $29/bundle plus tax. There are 25 seedlings of the same species per bundle. Multiple species are available.

Cost-share funding is available which makes the total out-of-pocket cost minimal to you.

For more information, please contact one of our Field Office representatives in your county:

Washington, Douglas & Sarpy counties: Kalani Fortina at 402-426-4782 ext. 3
Burt County: Deb Ward at 402-374-1920 ext. 3
Thurston County: Tamara Tipton at 402-846-5655
Dakota County: Mahkenna Koinzan at 402-494-4949

Cover Crop Roller Crimper Now Available to Farmers

A roller crimper, an alternative mechanical method to terminate cover crops without herbicides, is now available for farmers in and around Washington County. By crimping cover crops and rolling them over like a blanket on a field, it can improve weed suppression and reduce moisture evaporation from the soil.

Grant funding from the EPA, Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) and the Papio NRD for practices relating to water quality improvements enabled the recent acquisition of the roller crimper.

It’s available to local farmers for use at a low cost of $1/acre (to address routine maintenance). Farmers who may be hesitant about this practice are encouraged to try it on a few acres initially to make their own judgement and consider it a potential future investment.

To learn more about the roller crimper and cost-share on eligible conservation practices, contact Armando Zarco with the Papio NRD at 402-350-3695 or azarco@papionrd.org.

To schedule the roller crimper, contact Phil Kempcke at 402-533-3122 or Nate Kempcke at 402-278-0584 with Kempcke Seeds in Blair.



Conservation Ag Open House

A great opportunity for area landowners to learn about practices and programs to conserve natural resources from a variety of conservation partners. Free food and drinks, too!

The event is coordinated by the Papio NRD in association with the Papillion Creek Watershed Enhanced Water Quality Practices Program.



Papio NRD Program Makes Rural Intersections Safer

Pollinator Safety Corners Program

In late summer when corn is high, four-way intersections in rural counties can become dangerous. Tall crops obstruct the line of sight needed at these intersections. The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District, along with Pheasants Forever, The Nebraska Environmental Trust, and Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, offer a cost-share program to improve safety while also benefitting the ecosystem.

Due to this one-acre Pollinator Safety Corner, drivers have a better line of sight. Photo by Armando Zarco.

The Pollinator Safety Corners Program allows landowners to take one to three acres at a four-way intersection out of crop production and convert it into a mix of short native grasses or pollinator habitat. Landowners receive 75% cost-share on seed mix. In addition, the program provides an annual payment of $250/acre for five years. Landowners within the 319 Papillion Creek Watershed receive $350/acre annually. With your participation, we can make intersections safer for our communities and beneficial for pollinators.

Contact our office at (402) 426-4782 for more information.

Cost Share Programs for FY 2025

Urban Drainageway Program, Hell Creek Channel Restoration Project

The Papio NRD has nine (9) cost share programs available to assist government agencies to conserve and protect natural resources for people in our communities.

Please see the annual letter which includes a description of each program, program guidelines, and application forms.

The deadline for applications under all programs is March 22, 2024.

For more information, please call (402) 444-6222 or email ewilliams@papionrd.org.