Mayor Gaylor Baird Announces Second Water Source For Lincoln

LINCOLN–(KFOR/News Release Feb. 6)–A recommendation from her Water Source Advisory Council to develop a Missouri River wellfield and an underground pipeline for Lincoln’s second water source gets support from Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird.

The council’s recommendation was made in mid-January, following comprehensive studies that started in August 2022.

“Water stewardship and security is one of my administration’s highest priorities as we seek to ensure the long-term success of our growing city,” said Mayor Gaylor Baird. “Like the Advisory Council, I believe the Missouri River wellfield alternative is the best option to secure our second water source and the best investment to secure Lincoln’s future. I am confident this route will lead the way to continued water independence and economic prosperity.”

A wellfield and treatment center would need to be built near the Missouri River in order to transport water through a pipeline to Lincoln.

Advisory Council Chair Susan Seacrest said the Missouri River wellfield and underground pipeline to Lincoln alternative rates the highest in reliability out of the seven viable alternatives analyzed. She said this option will offer a long-term solution and life cycle that will be able to supply water capacity beyond 2075.

“This option provides the most redundancy of any alternative that was considered. This means the project will increase Lincoln’s ability to manage potential natural disasters like the 2019 flood that damaged Lincoln’s Platte River wells,” said Seacrest. “With the Missouri River as a second source, we increase our ability to successfully manage any future water issues.”

A Missouri River wellfield and underground pipeline also offers potential opportunities for Lincoln to assist neighboring communities with a supply of clean and safe water. The Missouri River wellfield and pipeline to Lincoln is estimated to cost $1.39 billion and would take 15 to 20 years to build.  The new facility will be similar to Lincoln’s existing operations at the City’s current facility in Ashland.

Work from Lincoln State Senators Eliot Bostar and Anna Wishart helped in the Nebraska Legislature to secure $20 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding in the 2021-2022 legislative session. This session, Bostar introduced LB506, which would appropriate $200 million in federal Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery funds to begin the project.

Bostar said he applauds the Advisory Council and the mayor’s forward thinking to examine opportunities for additional water.

“A Missouri River wellfield and underground pipeline to Lincoln will help maintain Lincoln’s long-standing water independence while also increasing the city’s flexibility and autonomy over how it can maintain a strong water supply through floods, drought, and other potential weather challenges,” Senator Bostar said.

The City’s next steps include to conduct studies, testing, technical analysis, and preliminary design to validate this solution. Mayor Gaylor Baird also thanked Olsson, who has been contracted to help the City and the Mayor’s Water Source Advisory Council navigate design, construction, financial, legal, and governance options.

A Water 2.0: Securing Lincoln’s Second Source Public Open House meeting will take place on March 7 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Southwest High School.