New Legislation Enables Local Entities Across Nation to Conduct Emergency Repairs Without Federal Funding or Action

Papio NRD championed new legislation following historic flood of 2019

Omaha, NE: Included in the large omnibus spending and authorizing package signed by President Trump Sunday night is Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District (Papio NRD) written and sponsored legislation allowing local sponsors throughout the nation to conduct emergency infrastructure repairs and receive reimbursement from the federal government.

Previously, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) was required to make flood mitigation infrastructure repairs, but if a local sponsor, such as the Papio NRD, conducted the work, then that sponsor was not eligible to have the project costs reimbursed.

The original process was costly on a variety of fronts, as following the flood of 2019, many levee systems went unrepaired for months, leaving people and infrastructure exposed to more flooding danger. The new legislation, championed by the Papio NRD, expedites emergency repairs and simultaneous federal funding on a national scale through authorizing language in the 2020 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).

“This legislation impacts far more than just our District,” said John Winkler, general manager of the Papio NRD. “Now, local sponsors across the country can start to repair vital flood mitigation infrastructure immediately following an emergency instead of waiting for federal action or funding. Typically, sponsors can do the work in one-third the time and cost than the federal government. We cannot thank our congressional delegation enough for its hard work and support,” said Winkler.

Winkler says additional good news to come out of the omnibus spending package is Congress’s first ever funding to the USACE Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan program for water infrastructure projects.

The Papio NRD strongly advocated for this funding inclusion in both the House and Senate and worked closely with Nebraska’s congressional delegation, as well as governors from multiple states to enlist their support. Congress voted to provide $12 million for the program, which will enable USACE to begin issuance of ultra-low interest loans with very favorable terms to entities like the Papio NRD to more efficiently construct vital flood mitigation infrastructure.



New Playground to be Installed at Chalco Hills in Memory of Dominik Walters

Four-year-old enjoyed the park with his family every Sunday afternoon


Dominik Walters

The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District (Papio NRD) Board of Directors voted to approve cost share for the purchase and installation of a new playground facility at Chalco Hills Recreation Area in memory of Dominik Walters.

In August 2018, while visiting the family cabin in Minnesota, four-year-old Dominik (Dom) died after suffering an unexpected and massive cardiac arrest while doing cannonballs off the dock with his father, Ryan.

The Walters family – Ryan, Tiffany, Dom, and Nora (or Boon, as Dom would call her) –  would visit Chalco Hills Recreation Area every Sunday to play on the playground equipment and explore the park.

To carry on the memory of their son, a few short months after Dom’s death, the Walters approached the Papio NRD about the possibility of donating funds for the construction of a new playground (Dom’s Park) at Chalco Hills. The family felt Dom’s Park would be the perfect way to honor Dom’s legacy and provide a new facility that children throughout the community could enjoy.

“It has been a tremendous honor to work with Ryan, Tiffany, and Boon and to be a partner on this special cost share project,” said Papio NRD General Manager John Winkler. “The Walters have turned unimaginable tragedy into a positive. Countless children are going to be able to enjoy this new playground and Chalco Hills, as Dom and his family did. Dom’s Park is an incredible tribute to Dom and gift to the Omaha community that will last for years to come,” said Winkler.


The Walters Family. Left to right – Nora, Tiffany, and Ryan

The cost of the Dom’s Park playground equipment and installation totaled $279,071. Through generous donations to the Dominik Walters Memorial Fund, including a matching grant of $76,464 from the playground equipment company, BCI Burke Company, the Walters family donated $105,000 to the Papio NRD.

“The Papio NRD had budgeted $125,000 for the purchase and installation of the equipment, but the Walters family surpassed its fundraising goal, leaving $97,607 total cost for the Papio NRD,” said Winkler. “Without hesitation, the board of directors unanimously voted to approve the donation and the naming of Dom’s Park. It will proudly replace current playground equipment that is over 30 years old,” said Winkler.

“At the time we tragically lost Dominik, we never imagined that we would cement his legacy with a new playground,” said Ryan and Tiffany Walters. “We are forever indebted to every individual who empathized with his story and contributed to our effort, and we are truly blessed to have this public-private partnership with the Papio NRD to make Dom’s Park a reality. We have so much joy in our hearts knowing that thousands of children will enjoy Dom’s Park at the very location Dominik absolutely loved,” said the Walters.

Construction of Dom’s Park will take place this spring and will be located in the northwest corner of Chalco Hills Recreation Area near Picnic Area A.


Dom’s Park Rendering


Papio NRD Board Decreases Property Tax Levy

Papio-Missouri River NRD Board Approves Proposed 2021 Budget

At its September 10th meeting, the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District Board of Directors voted to approve the Fiscal Year 2021 general operating budget that includes a decrease in the Papio NRD property tax levy.

“It is our civic duty to save taxpayer dollars and we are proud the District’s property tax levy will decrease again this year,” said John Winkler, general manager of the Papio NRD. “For 15 out of 16 years, the District has either decreased or kept the tax levy the same,” said Winkler.


Papio NRD Board of Directors

The FY21 budget calls for a property tax levy of .036490 per $100 of assessed valuation, which means a homeowner with property valued at $100,000 would pay a total of $36.49 or 3.04 cents a month in property taxes next year to support Papio NRD projects. The budget calls for an estimated $27 million in revenue from the NRD’s property tax levy. The total operating budget is estimated at $75.5 million.

The Papio-Missouri River NRD’s property tax levy amounts to less than two percent of a homeowner’s total property tax bill who lives within the District’s six-county area. The levy is based on an estimated 7.06% increase in valuations across the district, which includes all of Sarpy, Douglas, Washington and Dakota counties, plus the eastern 60% of Burt and Thurston counties.

Papio NRD and Nebraska Dignitaries Celebrate Start of Upgrades to Offutt Air Force Base Levees

Historic flood hit weeks before levee project was to begin,
causing catastrophic damage
to the base and surrounding area

 The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, Nebraska Congressional Delegation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Offutt Air Force Base, and other dignitaries today celebrated the start of repairs and upgrades to two levees at Offutt Air Force Base following the historic flood of 2019.

The March flood severely damaged the Missouri River Levee System that protects Offutt Air Force Base, resulting in nearly $1 billion in damage to the base. The nearby Papillion Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant and levee system sustained more than $45 million in damage. The flooding occurred just weeks before the Papio NRD was to begin federally mandated upgrades to the levees.

From L-R. Rita Sanders, District Representative for Congressman Jeff Fortenberry; Congressman Don Bacon; Governor Pete Ricketts; John Winkler, Papio NRD General Manager; Colonel John Hudson, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Bellevue Mayor Rusty Hike; Jim Thompson, Papio NRD Chairperson; and Colonel Alan Dayton, Offutt Air Force Base Mission Support Group Commander

“While timing of the flooding was certainly unfortunate, today we have great reason to celebrate,”  said John Winkler, general manager of the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District. “Like anything worthwhile, it wasn’t easy and the weather didn’t help. However, the historic floods of 2011 and 2019 only slowed us down. They never deterred us from the mission,” said Winkler.

During the week of September 9th, the Papio NRD, in cooperation and coordination with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, started the levee construction – raising and widening levees R-613 and R-616 – to provide increased flood risk protection to the area of tremendous infrastructure.

“That’s what this project represents, that spirit of Nebraska,” said Governor Pete Ricketts. “Not allowing ourselves to be defeated by Mother Nature, but willing to work together to build bigger and better than before. To rebuild this levee. To protect Offutt Air Force Base so they can continue their mission of protecting us,” said Ricketts.

Congressman Don Bacon said the levee project is an important milestone because without the levee system upgrades, the Unites States Air Force was not willing to replace the flooded Offutt Air Force Base runway.

“This levee is important for that runway, which costs $170 million to totally redo,” said Congressman Bacon. “Without the commitment to raise this levee, we would not get the replacement of $300 million to replace the buildings that were destroyed,” said Bacon.

“We are in the process of finishing the first contract, which was to restore levee R-616 and R-613 to its pre-flood condition,” said Colonel John Hudson of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.” That contractor’s efforts will be wrapping up here in the next week. That sets the condition for the Papio NRD’s contract to start work to raise the levee that additional two to three feet,” said Colonel Hudson.

The $35 million Missouri River Levee System project is estimated to be completed by 2021.

Additional speakers at the groundbreaking ceremony included District Representative Rita Sanders on behalf of Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, Bellevue Mayor Rusty Hike, Offutt Air Force Base Mission Support Group Commander Colonel Alan Dayton, and Papio NRD Chairperson Jim Thompson.








Papio NRD Decreases Property Tax Levy & Saves Taxpayers $1.8 Million in Refinancing of Bonds

It’s the beginning of fiscal year 2020 for the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District and the District has a double-dose of good news for local taxpayers.

Decrease In FY 2020 Property Tax Levy

The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District Board of Directors last night voted to approve the Fiscal Year 2020 general operating budget that called for a decreased property tax levy of .037384 per $100 of assessed valuation. This means a homeowner with property valued at $100,000 would pay a total of $37.38 in property taxes next year to support NRD projects.


Papio NRD Board of Directors

“We are proud to announce the District’s property tax levy will decrease again this year,” said John Winkler, general manager of the Papio NRD. “For 14 out of 15 years, the District has either decreased or kept the tax levy the same. Practicing fiscal responsibility – working strategically and creatively to save taxpayer dollars is our civic duty. We take it very seriously,” said Winkler.

The budget calls for an estimated $26 million in revenue from the NRD’s property tax levy. The total operating budget is estimated at $70.5 million.

The Papio-Missouri River NRD’s property tax levy amounts to less than two percent of the total property tax bill for residents living within the District’s six-county area. The levy is based on an estimated 6.86 percent increase in valuations across the District.

Refinancing of Bonds Saves Taxpayers $1.8 Million

Due to the refinancing of 2015 and 2017 Flood Control Protection and Water Quality Enhancement Refunding bonds, the Papio NRD is expected to save District taxpayers $1.8 million over the remaining term of the bonds.

In addition, over the past four years, the District refinanced its 2010 bonds, saving taxpayers $3.5 million, to date.

“Complementing this good news, S&P Global Ratings recently assigned an upgraded ‘AA’ rating to the Papio NRD,” says Winkler. “This will produce additional savings not only during the refinancing of bonds, but also in the future as the District continues to provide flood control and water quality to our District.”

The Papio-Missouri Natural Resources District includes all of Sarpy, Douglas, Washington and Dakota counties, plus the eastern 60% of Burt and Thurston counties.


Governor Signs Bill into Law Extending Bonding Authority for the Papio NRD

Governor Ricketts last night officially signed LB 177 into law, extending the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District’s bonding authority for five years for flood control projects.

The Papio NRD can now complete the Missouri River Levee project that protects Offutt Air Force Base and Omaha’s Wastewater Treatment Plant after this year’s historic and destructive floods, as well as build six priority reservoirs throughout the Greater Omaha Metro Area to provide needed flood mitigation.

“We would like thank Governor Ricketts, Senator Lindstrom and other bill sponsors; Senator Hughes, Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee; countless state senators and their staff, mayors from partner jurisdictions, and citizens who supported LB 177,” says John Winkler, general manager of the Papio NRD.  “This is an important piece of legislation that enables the Papio NRD to continue its job of protecting lives and property through construction of additional flood control infrastructure throughout our District,” says Winkler.


Union Dike

Papio NRD Announces Board Subdistrict 7 Vacancy

District Now Accepting Applications to Fill Vacancy

The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District Board of Directors announced a vacancy on the board at its meeting last night.

Director Patrick Leahy, who represents Subdistrict 7, provided his formal resignation from the board earlier this month, as he will be moving to a residence located outside of Subdistrict 7. Nebraska state law declares a Papio NRD Director must reside in the subdistrict he/she represents.

Subdistrict 7’s boundaries roughly comprise of the Dundee/Benson neighborhoods to west of I-680 on Dodge Street.

“I would like to thank the Directors, the constituents of Subdistrict 7, and the entire NRD staff for making serving the District fun and fulfilling,” said Leahy. “I have enjoyed the past six years and I will miss helping with the good work of the NRD’s mission.”

“Director Leahy’s commitment to the District and those he served never wavered and we cannot thank him enough for his service and leadership,” said John Winkler, General Manager of the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District. “Director Leahy’s support and tenacity will be sorely missed by the District and his constituents. We wish Director Leahy nothing but the best and no doubt he will soon return to public service in one way or another,” said Winkler.

Those interested in being appointed to fill the remainder of Leahy’s term (until January 2020) can submit a letter of application until January 31, 2019.

The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District Board of Directors is an 11-member board that sets policy for Papio NRD programs and projects and oversees a $72 million annual operating budget. The Papio NRD District includes all of Sarpy, Douglas, Washington and Dakota counties, plus the eastern 60% of Burt and Thurston counties.


Papio-Missouri River NRD Board Approves Proposed 2019 Budget

Decrease in Property Tax Levy

Contact: Jennifer Stauss Story
Cell Phone: 402-960-5329 

Omaha, NE: At its September 13th meeting in Dakota City, the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District Board of Directors voted to approve the Fiscal Year 2019 general operating budget that includes a decrease in the Papio NRD property tax levy.

“We are proud the District’s property tax levy will decrease again this year,” said John Winkler, general manager of the Papio NRD. “For 13 out of 14 years, the District has either decreased or kept the tax levy the same. We work diligently to save local taxpayers millions of dollars and take seriously our responsibility in doing so in a transparent manner.” said Winkler.

The FY 2019 budget calls for a property tax levy of .037594 per $100 of assessed valuation, which means a homeowner with property valued at $100,000 would pay a total of $37.59 in property taxes next year to support NRD projects. The budget calls for an estimated $24 million in revenue from the NRD’s property tax levy. The total operating budget is estimated at $72.2 million.

The Papio-Missouri River NRD’s property tax levy amounts to less than two percent of the total property tax bill for residents living within the District’s six-county area. The levy is based on an estimated 5.2 percent increase in valuations across the district, which includes all of Sarpy, Douglas, Washington and Dakota counties, plus the eastern 60% of Burt and Thurston counties.







Papio NRD Budget Process Transparency for Public Education

In the District’s continuing efforts to enhance transparency, responsiveness to its constituents, and to educate stakeholders and the general public about the intricacies of the budgeting process, John Winkler, general manager of the Papio NRD, reviewed and provided the following feedback on the Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom’s (NTF) Issue Paper.

Papio NRD Addresses Organization’s Budget Analysis for Public Benefit

After a more detailed review of the “findings” of the NTF analysis management thought it prudent to directly respond and correct some of the inaccuracies and misconceptions the issue paper contains.  I for one very much appreciate the input the District receives not only on the budget but any project or program we undertake.  The District consistently strives to be the most transparent, responsible and responsive government entity not only in the State of Nebraska but in the entire country.   In order to achieve these lofty goals it is incumbent upon the District to ensure accurate information is presented at all times.  Furthermore, in the future we will seek to establish additional proactive strategies to educate the public in not only general public budgeting process but the internal budgeting processes of the District as well.

CORE Missions

One of the “criticisms” of the NTF analysis is the District “over budgets” revenue every year and over spends on items outside of its CORE responsibility. Fact: The NRD has 12 statutory CORE Missions given to it by the Nebraska Legislature.  These CORE missions are broad and encompassing to protect life, property, wildlife, the environment, the economy, our natural resources and the very future of our communities.  Every District project and program is authorized and funded by an elected Board of Directors and has a direct link to the agencies 12 CORE missions and statutory responsibilities.  The District historically does not spend all of the funds allocated in the annual budget.  There are several factors that impact the expenditure of funds any given year.  A great majority of District projects and programs are multi-year efforts and are reliant upon factors outside of the Districts control.

For example, District projects and programs often experience weather delays, delays in securing state and federal permits, delays caused by utilities or other conflicts, delays caused by partner agencies and many other unforeseen events can delay the completion of projects which ultimately delays the expenditure of funds.

Cash On Hand

One of the most perplexing NTF criticisms is the District’s cash on hand is too large and fuels increases in the budget and an increase in property taxation. Fact: These statements could not be more inaccurate and are possibly generated by a general lack of understanding of the budgeting process and public financing.  The cash on hand at the end of each fiscal year does not contribute to increased budgets or increases in taxes, actually it is quite the opposite.  Any cash on hand from the previous budget year is transferred to the next budget year to be utilized as a beginning balance, before tax requirement are calculated, for those projects and programs that did not get completed the prior fiscal year. In fact the project reserve fund actually contributes to a reduction in the required property tax requirement as these funds are the first to be budgeted/allocated in the budget process.  Simply, the unused funds are carried over from one fiscal year to the next and utilized as a baseline in the next budget; the budget doesn’t start from zero, especially in light of the fact that many District projects take years to construct.  It is stated in the NTF analysis that 33.8 million was over budgeted from last fiscal year and only 55% utilized.  Obviously, when the District budget funds for a project or program it expects to expend those funds that fiscal year, however, due to the delays pointed out earlier many projects get delayed from one year to the next.  Once again, this unused revenue funds are carried over to the next fiscal year as a beginning balance for that project or program which did not get completed and many times no additional new revenue is needed.

Generated Revenue

The NTF indicated that the NRD spent 110.9% of property tax budgeted from General Fund an “embarrassing amount”.  Fact: These funds are not property tax funds but is revenue generated through lease payments, fees, donations, and other miscellaneous revenue.  In fact these funds assist in reducing the property tax requirements of District taxpayers and the District has done an outstanding job maintaining and increasing revenue streams from leases, camping fees, user fees etc.  Another fact is the District only collected 83.5% of anticipated revenue due to delays in project completion or progress.  As only one third of the District’s total revenue is property taxes the District does an extremely commendable job securing additional revenue streams that greatly limit the property tax requirements of District constituents.

Budgeting for Projects

The NTF analysis called out two expense accounts that were over budget and others that were “woefully” under budget, which in their opinion pointed to “poor budgeting”.  Fact: The two expense accounts over 100% of the budget were projects that were ahead of schedule and additional work was able to be completed in the fiscal year which not only adds increased value to those we serve but saves money by completing the project earlier.

Health Insurance

The NTF analysis identifies the 5% health insurance premium increase as a need for employees to pay more of their health insurance costs.  Fact: The NRD health plan is a self-funded plan administered by the NRD’s and its Directors and employees.  The NRD health plan has experienced record low increases in health insurance premiums over the last 7 years and is anywhere from 30 to 50 percent below market premium increases compared to other health insurance plans each and every year.  I am a member of the NARD Benefits Committee and steps are taken consistently to keep premium costs down and to spread any increases to employees and employer.  The committee recently raised the prescription drug co-pays for employees and is looking at other plan modifications to save money.  This health insurance plan has been a huge savings to the taxpayers of the District compared to other entities.

Line Item Designation

The NTF analysis indicated that several line items under Special Planning/Engineering/Recycling are not defined clearly.  Fact: All Special Planning/Engineering/Recycling are clearly designated on page 5 and 43 of the budget.  Our budget worksheets are one of the most detailed and transparent budgeting documents in the State of Nebraska.

Carryover Funds

The NTF analysis identifies “identical amounts” for office carpeting and office painting appear in the last fiscal year, so these expense carryovers boost the property tax requirement. Fact:  As discussed earlier carryover funds do not boost property tax requirements and these funds were carried over because the leases with USDA, NRCS, FSA and the Corps of Engineers were being reviewed for work space requirements and thus the lease not finalized.  In fact, the District will be receiving increase lease fees and internal work efficiencies by utilizing current space more efficiently and effectively thus saving even more taxpayer money.

Operating Reserve Funds

The NTF analysis assumes the cash on hand funds and operating reserve boost the property tax load and resembles “a slush fund”.  Fact: The operating reserve is less than one month of District operating expenses and is woefully underfunded compared to similar operating reserve funds like the City of Omaha, Douglas County, State of Nebraska and every school district in the State of Nebraska.  Like any “rainy day” fund the operating reserve should contain 3 to 6 months of operating expenses.  The other assumptions of cash on hand and carryover funds has been explained.

Southern Sarpy Watershed Partnership

The NTF analysis states the Southern Sarpy Watershed Partnership continually shows a bloated reserve.  Fact: The SSWP has a large cash balance because of private development fees that have been collected by the SSWP partners and distributed to the District.  The majority of these funds were paid by the new Facebook Data Center.  The collection of these private fees further reduces the burden on the District taxpayers.

USACE Re-study

The NTF analysis states there is not “justification” for the $500,000 for the USACE Papillion Creek Watershed re-study.  Fact:  The USACE re-study is a 50-50 cost share federal study of the Papillion Creek Watershed which upon completion could open the door to tens of millions of dollars of federal funding to complete the Papillion Creek Watershed Plan.  The study was discussed multiple times and approved by the NRD Board of Directors at a public meeting and was extensively covered in the media and at past Board meetings.

Information Support Programs

The NTF analysis states the information support programs “over budgeted” the last fiscal year.  Fact: Information support programs were not completed last fiscal year due to the retirement of Emmett Eger, Program Manager, and the subsequent hiring of a new Program Manager and other department personnel.  These unused funds were carried over into this year’s budget and will be redirected to new and updated information and education programs.

Omaha Levee Certification and Western Sarpy Clear Creek

The NTF analysis states the Omaha Levee Certification and Western Sarpy Clear Creek was “over budgeted”.  Fact:  The City of Omaha Levee Certification is authorized and budgeted for $500,000 a year up to a total of $2,000,000 maximum District contribution.  Omaha simply did not spend the full $500,000 budgeted last fiscal year as they were unable to complete as much work as they wanted and thus they were not able to request the full reimbursement from the NRD.  Therefore, $500,000 is budgeted again this fiscal year and the unspent funds are rolled over into the next fiscal year and all of the maximums remain in place. It was anticipated the NRD would need to reimburse the Corps of Engineers $700,000 for the Western Sarpy Clear Creek Levee Project expenses, however, due to NRD staff’s professional relationships and competent negotiation skills the $700,000 payment was not required.  Consequently, this saved the taxpayers of the District $700,000 in property tax funds.

Flanagan Lake

The NTF analysis was “disturbed” that funds were budgeted for Flanagan Lake so soon after completion.  Fact: Flanagan Lake was recently completed and opened in July of 2018, however, due to the amount of precipitation and extreme rain events that occurred this year some of the seeding and other erosion control measures didn’t have time to properly establish, consequently, those erosion issues must be addressed to properly protect the public from danger and the structure from further damage.

Water Quality Basins

The NTF analysis questioned the budgeting of funds to dredge an SID Lake.  Fact:  The NRD has an established program that was approved and funded by the Board of Directors to allow municipalities including SID’s to apply for cost share funds to dredge small Water Quality Basins.  These Water Quality Basins protect main stem flood control reservoirs from silt and pollutants.  The continued functionality of Water Quality Basins will ultimately save the taxpayer money as the main stem reservoirs will not need as much future maintenance.

State Grants

The NTF analysis was disappointed in the amount of state grants that were or weren’t collected the last fiscal year.  Fact: Since the NRD just received federal permits on a number of large projects, now work can begin to construct those projects.  State grant funds are only reimbursed to the District when qualified and eligible project costs are performed and those costs are incurred by the District.  State grant funds are held by the state until the work is completed, the state is invoiced and the work is verified as being completed by the state.  No state funds were lost, the work and reimbursement is simply delayed.

Construction Bid

The NTF analysis believes the construction bid on the new equipment shed is too expensive.  Fact:  A competitive bid was solicited on the equipment shed and the Board of Directors approved the lowest and best bid.  This shed will ultimately save the taxpayers of the District money and it will protect District equipment and extend the life of that equipment.

Development Fees

The NTF analysis identifies that developer fees collected in the PCWP are not meeting estimates from nine years ago.  Fact:  PCWP development fees have lagged from original estimates, however, fees are starting to increase over the last few fiscal years as the housing market booms and development races forward.  Development fees will be addressed in the upcoming five year PCWP Plan update.

The District appreciates the positive points outlined in the NTF Issue Paper and will review and take under advisement the NTF suggestions.  Perhaps in the future District staff can engage the NTF to discuss public budgeting and the internal NRD budgeting process in greater detail.   I believe a lot of these concerns are based on misinformation, a general disagreement or opposition to District projects like reservoir construction or a general lack of understanding of NRD budgeting processes and techniques.




John G. Winkler
General Manager
Papio-Missouri River NRD





Papio NRD Announces Winners of “Dam Fun Contest”

Contest celebrated the grand opening of Flanagan Lake
with the Omaha community

The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District today announced the winners of the city-wide “Dam Fun Contest” it launched in celebration of the grand opening of Flanagan Lake in June.

More than 200 Flanagan Lake-goers entered the photo contest for their chance to win recreation-themed prizes donated by sponsors. Members of the public determined the winners by voting for their favorite photo, casting more than 11,000 total votes. The top-voted photos in the following categories (kayak, Trek bike, fishing, gift card) are the contest grand prize winners:


“Dam Fun Contest” Winners

  • Perception Hook 105 Angler Kayak – Brian Harmon
  • 2018 Trek FX 2 Hybrid Bicycle – Rob Morrison
  • Two Scheels Outfitters Pfleuger President Tournament Combo, Scheels 50 Super Cooler, Fins & Fur Outdoor Adventure Guide gift certificate for ½ day guided fishing trip for two with guide Steve Satra – Nick Hummel
  • $100 SCHEELS gift certificates – Adriana Guzman, Kari Marcley, Heather Steffen, Beth Pietzmeier, and Adam Denney

Sponsors for the prizes included FYRA Engineering, HDR, Inc., Olsson Associates, McArdle Grading Company, and Cabelas.

“Most people don’t know that Flanagan Lake is a flood control reservoir designed to protect the lives and property of Omaha citizens from floods,” said John Winkler, general manager of the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District. “To celebrate the public safety and recreational opportunities Flanagan Lake provides, we launched the “Dam Fun Contest” to engage with the community in a fun and educational way.” 

Rob Morrison, winner of the Trek bike, says he has big plans in store for his new wheels. “I can’t wait to repeat my ‘half-century’ ride – over 50 miles to Flanagan Lake and back,” says Morrison. “Thank you to the Papio NRD and sponsors involved in this contest, as well as all the people that voted for me. I would never have a bike like this without all of you!”

Flanagan Lake, near 168th and Fort Streets, is Omaha’s latest flood control reservoir in the Papillion Creek Watershed. It provides flood protection for Omaha citizens and 730 acres of recreational benefits, such as a 220-acre lake, five-mile hiking/biking trail, and park and green space.