HOW MUCH WATER ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
On average, 90 million acre feet of water falls on Nebraska each year. But this can vary greatly, from as much as 140 million acre feet in wet years to as little as 60 million acre feet in years of drought.
In addition, there is great variability in precipitation across the state. The eastern side of the state receives an average of 30 inches of annual precipitation. As you head west, precipitation declines about one inch for every 25 miles to an average annual precipitation rate of below 14 inches in the Panhandle.
Each year streams and rivers flowing into Nebraska add approximately 2 million acre feet of water to our annual supply.
WHERE DOES ALL THIS WATER GO?
On average, 9 million acre feet flows out of the state, 30 million acre feet evaporates and another 50 million acre feet transpires through plants. Municipal and industrial use accounts for less than one million acre feet annually.
Irrigation accounts for 5 to 10 million acre feet of water used, which amounts to less than 10% of the total water supply on less than 20% of the total acres in the state.
Storage water is also part of the equation. We store about 5 million acre feet of water in surface reservoirs. Below the ground, the aquifer holds an incredible 2,000 million acre feet of water.
BLUE WATER (above) is liquid water in streams, lakes, wetlands, reservoirs and underground aquifers. GREEN WATER (above) is moisture that returns to the atmosphere through evaporation and transpiration from plants.
Source: Vince Dreesen, “Flat Water “- The Nebraska Water History Book