The Price of Water

If we pollute it, we can’t drink it.
If we don’t conserve it, we’ll run out of it.
Because, the truth is we can not make more water.

The Price of Water explores Nebraska's fresh water resources, who uses it and for what purpose, and how Nebraskan's are protecting fresh water to sustain it for the future.


When we turn on the faucet we don't even think about where our tap water comes from we simply trust clean, clear water to be there whenever we need it.  Nebraska is lucky.  We have an abundance of water and The Price of Water goes on the road to learn where it comes from, where it goes, who uses it, and why it's important to protect our fresh water resources.

Take a trek high in the Colorado Rockies to the headwaters of the North Platte River and follow the flow of this historic river through three states to discover how it helped settle the west.   Near the town of Roscoe, see a portion of the geologic Ogallala formation that lies exposed at the surface.  For millions of years sediment from multiple Rocky mountain uplifts deposited semiconsolidated clay, silt, sand, gravel and tons of water in the center of Nebraska.   Today this natural underground repository of fossil water is known as the Ogallala Aquifer.       

Making sure there is enough water to go around is a growing issue.   To get a picture of where Nebraska water is going we visit a fifth generation farmer to see how irrigation transformed farming in central Nebraska;  tour Gerald Gentlemen Power Station to learn how water plays an essential role in producing electricity (and how ongoing drought threatened Nebraska’s largest coal-fired power plant); and travel to Omaha to find out how the Metropolitan Utilities District is meeting the water demands of a growing population.

Whether it's for farming, industry, or tapped by our local utilities for us to drink - we are diverting water from its original source and it is disturbing our waterways.    To see how, we follow two experts on the lower Platte River and witness the effect water diversion has on endangered species.    Drought also causes less water to run in our rivers and drops the water table of our giant aquifer. In the Sand Hills, shadow three researchers as they gather more information about how an ancient mega-drought turned the vast grass covered dune field into a barren desert.

The Price of Water concludes with stories about what is being done to protect this vital, limited resource.  Meet the owner of a family business who built their success on progressive environmental practices; join a grassroots environmental group as they pull nasty trash out of the Mighty Mo (so far they’ve removed 592 tons of garbage from the Missouri River); and learn how a community based organization and public schools work together to teach children water awareness.


The Price of Water features interviews with:
Jim Goeke, Research Hydrogeologist, University of Nebraska
Dave Loope, Ph.D., Geologist, University of Nebraska
Jim Swinehart Ph.D., Geologist, University of Nebraska
Joe Mason, Ph.D., Geographer, University of Wisconsin
John Lawson, Wyoming Area Manager, Bureau of Reclamation
Ann Bleed, Director, Nebraska Dept of Natural Resources
Vernon and Mike Nelson,  Family Farmers, Holdrege
Tom Downey, Owner/Driller, Downey Drilling
Frank Kwapnioski, Water Resources Advisor, NPPD
Tom Wurtz, President, Omaha Metropolitan Utilities District
Joel Jorgensen, Non-game Bird Program Manager, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
Renae Held, Tern and Plover Partnership, University of Nebraska
Robert Kuzelka, Professor Emeritus Director of Environmental Studies, University of Nebraska
Marc LeBaron, CEO, Lincoln Industries (formerly Lincoln Plating)
David Stouss, Boardmember, Missouri River Relief
Joseph Osborn, Volunteer, Missouri River Relief
Lindsay Rogers, Naturalist, Omaha's Fontenelle Nature Association
Margie Reed, Principal, Western Hills Magnet Center, Omaha