Community Conversation

Water rights and management.

There’s no question it’s a topic of great importance to agricultural producers. But it’s also of interest to fans of water recreation. And it should be on the radar of urban residents, too.

That’s why the topic of “Whose water is it anyway?” will be the focus of the next “community conversation” hosted by the Daily News, Northeast Community College and new sponsor Calmwater Financial Group of Norfolk.

The issue already has generated lawsuits and has the potential of pitting rural landowners versus their urban neighbors, as well as creating a divide between agricultural producers who irrigate and those who see the benefits of water for recreation purposes.

It’s a complex dilemma — and one that could benefit from a good conversation.

That’s what is planned for Monday, Aug. 28, at 5:30 p.m. in the Cox Activities Center theater on the Northeast Community College campus in Norfolk. The conversation is open to the public.

Previous community conversations on different topics have wrapped up by 6:30 p.m., but because of the potentially high level of interest in the topics, the Aug. 28 event is scheduled to continue until 7 p.m.

On hand as featured guests will be:

— Justin Lavene of the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, where he serves as the bureau chief of the Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Bureau. He focuses his practice primarily on litigation arising from the regulation and administration of the waters of Nebraska.

— Don Blankenau, who is a founding member of the Blankenau Wilmoth Jarecke legal firm based in Lincoln. He has represented clients in a wide range of water disputes, including interstate cases involving the Platte River, Missouri River and Republican River. He also has been involved in a variety of groundwater conflicts and served as administrative law judge in more than 100 hearings concerning water use.

— Lyndon Vogt, who serves as general manager of the Central Platte Natural Resources District based in Grand Island. He has been involved with water resources management through his work with several NRDs since 1996. In 2014, he was elected as one of the three Nebraska representatives to the multi-state Ground Water Management Districts Association.

The conversation is designed to be an exchange of ideas and questions as compared to a speech or presentation. Audience members’ comments and questions are encouraged. Kent Warneke, editor of the Daily News, will serve as moderator.

This is the latest in a series of community conversations sponsored by the Daily News, Calmwater Financial Group of Norfolk and Northeast Community College.

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