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Sand Creek In-stream Weir Pilot Projects
The Little Blue NRD applied for two grants from the Nebraska Water Sustainability Fund (WSF) and both have been approved for funding. The first project was approved in last 2016 and includes five weirs which will be constructed on Sand Creek near Holstein. The low-level weirs are designed to capture storm water in Sand Creek in an area of very sandy soil condition and allow the water to seep into the creek bed. The weirs are designed in series with the pool backup of one weir, reaching to the tow of the upstream weir. The weirs are a lower cost alternative to large flood control dams and impact very little land because of their design. Thus a project is much cheaper and land impacts are negligible. The cost of this first project is $335,000 with the WSF picking up 60% or $201,000. The projects benefit for recharge, sediment retention and stream stabilization over the 50-year life of the projects is expected to exceed $860,000, plus the structures will provide several safe creek crossing for the landowners.
Explore the project with this drone video.
Oxbow Reconnections for Groundwater Recharge
The project which was approved in 2017 includes several oxbow reconnections. In addition to receiving funds from the Water Sustainability Fund, these projects received funding in 2018 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust. These projects are a variant of the instream-weirs, but will divert water into old existing oxbow in streams to expand the storage areas and increase groundwater recharge potential. A total of four sites are proposed. The total cost of this set of projects is $649,000 with contributions being provided by the WSF in the amount of $389,820 and the Nebraska Environmental Trust for $95,865. The 50-year benefits of the project are estimated at $1,343,500.
Crystal Lake is an oxbow lake off the Little Blue River located near Ayr, Nebraska. Originally constructed in 1893 for harvesting ice, the lake is now owned and operated as a fishery and recreation area by the Village of Ayr. Because of shallow depths resulting from sedimentation and shoreline erosion along steep shorelines, the lake is no longer able to sustain the fishery.
Site improvements include excavation of the lake to remove nutrient loaded sediment and increase overall depth such that approximately 25% of the lake will have a depth of 10 to 12 feet and average lake depth is increased to a minimum of six to eight feet; bank stabilization through shoreline shaping, hard armoring, and revegetation; the construction of rock jetties for shore stabilization that also improves angler access; the construction of a ADA handicap accessible ramp and fishing pier for expanded public access; lake edge seeding and mulching to stabilize shoreline and provide fish habitat; construction of a wetland to improve quality of water entering the lake. Additional site improvements by the Village of Ayr include construction of a wetland viewing platform and recreational trail; and the development of ADA accessible parking, seating and signage.