- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 3, 2015

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The 2012-2013 drought was still lowering groundwater levels in some parts of Nebraska last year, but a new report also said levels have been rising elsewhere in the state.

In spring 2013 some areas had wells with record declines of almost 25 feet since spring 2012. Several southeast Nebraska wells had declines of five feet.

The declines resulted from below normal-precipitation, “possibly combined with delayed response of the aquifer to drought conditions in 2012,” said Aaron Young, a survey geologist in the Conservation and Survey Division at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

But as drought conditions eased and water use practices improved, the report said, the declines slowed. On average, groundwater levels statewide declined half a foot from spring 2013 to spring 2014, compared with average declines of 2.55 feet from spring 2012 to spring 2013.

Although water levels have declined, “conditions are far from dire,” Young said.

“Declines experienced in some parts of the state will recover if we experience a number of wet years,” he said.

He pointed to rising groundwater levels in the southern Panhandle and in Colfax, Holt and Perkins counties. In northern Colfax County, for example, in spring 2012 the groundwater level dropped more than 20 feet. By spring 2014, water levels had risen two to 10 feet in the same area.

As of last week, more than 28 percent of Nebraska was abnormally dry, said the U.S. Drought Monitor overseen by the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln.

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