The Natural Resources Water Quality Fund (NRWQF) was created in 2001 to provide state funds to Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) for their Water Quality Programs. The Fund receives monies from the receipt of portions of certain fees levied by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture for pesticide registration and applicator licenses. These sources yield about one million dollars per year. The distribution of funds occurs in August and February of each fiscal year.
By statute, these funds can only be used by NRDs and only for water quality programs. Use of the fund for a wide variety of water quality related measures, both for surface water and ground water, is permitted. NRDs are required to provide three dollars match for each two dollars of state funds received. The Department of Natural Resources rules and regulations govern administration of the NRWQF. The rules establish a formula for distribution of the dollars to NRDs. At least 50% of the funds available are distributed on the basis of proportionate fertilizer sales in each NRD. Twenty percent is distributed equally among all participating districts, and another 20% is distributed on the basis of whether a district has a ground water quality management area or clean water lakes designated area. Finally, up to 10% of the funds available can be withheld by the Natural Resources Commission to be distributed to NRDs for special projects through an application process. Thus far, the Department has chosen not to whithhold any funds for such projects.
At the end of each year, each district certifies that its total expenditures for eligible water quality programs and projects at least equaled the amount received from the state plus the required match. If a district does not spend all of the funds distributed to it or does not qualify or properly match all of the funds, those funds must be returned to the Department and redeposited in the fund.