Kubicek, who now lives in York though owns still owns the farmland in Milligan, partnered with the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District on the repairs, taking advantage of cost-share funds in the Private Dams Program. These funds provide landowners with an opportunity to correct or re-build privately owned dams. The NRD will contribute 75 percent of the project costs up to a maximum cost-share of $50,000. Eligible costs include construction and design services provided by a private engineering firm. The NRD works with the Natural Resources Conservation Service for the design and construction support services provided to this popular program.
The repairs to Kubicek’s dam, which included removing the old pipe and installing a new one, as well as a new riser and other reinforcements, cost about $71,000, of which the NRD contributed $50,000. “When my dad built it, it cost $10,000. Now just to replace the tube is over $70,000. But I guess that’s progress,” Kubicek jokes. “I was most appreciative that the Upper Big Blue decided to help me out on that because it would have been a much bigger decision for me otherwise.”
Nebraskans have made a large investment in building dams across the state. There are over 2,900 dams on the Nebraska Dam Inventory; 57 percent of them are privately owned. Most of these dams are considered “small” (storage of 15-250 acre-feet). According to a report from 2018, 43 percent of Nebraska’s dams are more than 50 years old, and nearly 500 Nebraska dams are in poor condition, meaning they may fail under expected conditions. To rebuild these dams (at an average cost of $60,000 each) the total investment would be $122,820,000.