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State to stop funding flood monitoring near DeWitt

October 11, 2018

Gage County officials are evaluating their options for monitoring water levels after learning state funding for one monitor was ending.

Gage County Emergency Management Director Lisa Wiegand said during Wednesday’s Gage County Board of Supervisors’ meeting that the state was cutting off funding for a monitor near DeWitt.

“I received notification from the Nebraska DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) that they are pulling the funding for the river gauge at Turkey Creek, which is at DeWitt,” she said. “That’s a stream gauge and a strong indicator for us. They don’t deem it necessary.”

Wiegand said it costs $30,000 annually to operate the monitor at the site. Turkey Creek meets the Big Blue River and monitoring at the site helps predict flooding at Beatrice, as well as DeWitt.

“It’s an imperative gauge that shows what kind of backup and so forth, especially for Beatrice, Hoag and through there,” Wiegand said. “…A lot of those river monitors are now done through an internet process and through satellite monitoring. I’m very grateful for that because you’re not manually trying to do that, but with that comes fees.”

Wiegand said the county may consider approaching companies to help fund the monitoring site, and that other counties are working toward a solution, as well.

Regarding the recent rains, Wiegand said some precautions were taken through the area but no serious flooding was expected.

“Beatrice did go into the action plan on Saturday evening with the way the river was looking,” she said. “They were in the action plan Saturday, Sunday and also Monday. They put forth clearing Chautauqua Park and then also doing some of their barricades. But everything is calm right now. There’s nothing in any river readings right now.”

County Board Chairman Myron Dorn added that while there’s little risk of flooding with the current rain levels, moisture is taking a toll on county roads.

“We’re getting so many potholes just because of the prolonged rain and the water starts sitting in a little hole and with the traffic it keeps getting bigger,” he explained. “(The highway superintendent) said there’s also roads we’ve never had potholes on that they’re starting to show up. It’s just because of that prolonged weather that we’ve had and continued slow rain.”

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