Current Environmental Issue Study Guide 2021

Water Resources Management: Local Control and Local Solutions

The Current Environmental Issue is always selected by the host of the North American competition. in 2020 Nebraska will be the host. 

Nebraska is fortunate to sit atop the Ogallala aquifer, one of the largest unconfined aquifers in the world. This natural resource provides drinking water for most of the state and has enabled Nebraska to lead the country as the #1 irrigated state, helping to sustain agriculture as the states leading industry. Managing and protecting this resource is the responsibility of Nebraska’s unique local Natural Resources Districts (NRDs). While NRDs have maintained groundwater levels near pre-development levels, competing uses and variable supplies have placed additional management requirements on locally elected policy makers.

Key Topics:

1. Understanding how groundwater and surface water systems function.

Objective 1.Knowledge of hydrologic cycle

Objective 2.Knowledge of groundwater and surface water interactions

Objective 3.How human activities effect groundwater and surface water

2. Understanding the importance of water quality and quantity as a foundation in a healthy ecosystem

Objective 1.Understanding the connection between groundwater and surface water and how they affect each other

3. Understanding a variety of water quality indicators in different landscapes.

Objective 1.Knowledge of water quality impacts such as agriculture practices, urban development, nitrates, toxic algae, etc.

Objective 2. Understand the indicators of water health, including physical, chemical and biological properties and its role in the hydrological system.

4. Understanding a variety of water quantity indicators in different landscapes

Objective 1.Knowledge of water quantity impacts such as agriculture practices, urban development, groundwater levels

Objective 2.Understanding of stream gauges and groundwater maps.

5. Understanding how sustainable and best management practices enhance and protect water quality and quantity for humans and wildlife.

Objective 1.Understand the importance of moving toward sustainable practices to protect water quality and quantity.

Objective 2.Understand best management practices that improve water quality and quantity such as improved agriculture practices, urban planning and water efficiency.

Objective 3.Understand the role of technology: flow meters, observation wells, Airborne Electromagnetic (AEM) surveys, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) (drones, GIS, etc.), precision agriculture, etc.

6. Understanding the differences of local, regional, and national systems that manage natural resources and the importance of each in water resources.

Objective 1 .Knowledge of various conservation agencies including Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts, and how partners work together for conservation success.

Objective 2.Understanding Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts structure and what makes it unique from other conservation districts in the U.S.

7. Understanding the social, economic, political impacts of natural resources management and decision making.

Objective 1.Describe the social, economic and political impacts of regulating water quality and quantity.


2. Understand the delicate balance behind decision making – funding projects, social responsibility, regulatory authority.

2021 National NCF - Envirothon Competition

Lincoln, Nebraska

Study Materials

Our local test writers have provided the following resources:

Water Cycle Fundamentals USGS

Nutrient Reductions Ohio EPA

The Impact of N and P on Water Quality

United Nations Water Scarcity Report 

Ohio Nutrient Reduction Strategy

Transforming Drainage

Study materials are provided by the North American competition and can be found on their website. If you select the blue boxes that say "Key Topic #1", etc each one has study materials for that topic.

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