Bill Meyer

Interviewee:


Interviewee Bill Meyer, Board Director, Lower Elkhorn NRD, 1974 - time of interview

Bill Meyer

Position Held: Board Director, Lower Elkhorn NRD, 1974 - time of interview

Full Interview:


Interviewer(s):

Jim Barr

Associated NRDs:

Lower Elkhorn

Transcript:

MR. BARR: This is Jim Barr. It's December 18th, 2013. I'm in a Lower Elkhorn NRD office in Norfolk visiting with Bill Meyer. Bill, would you kind of like to give a little background on yourself before we really get into the NRD stuff?
MR. MEYER: Well, I was born on a farm northeast of Columbus, Nebraska. And when I was ten years old, we moved to a farm by Madison, west of Madison. And then, three years later, we moved into town on an acreage by Madison, so I graduated from Madison High School. While I was in the high school, I joined the Army Reserve. I was 17. And so, I spent -- that was in January of '57, and so as soon as I graduated from high school, I went into the Army and spent six months in training. And then spent the next five years in the Army Reserve. In 1958, I went to Wayne State College and spent a semester and a half there. And then transferred to the University of Nebraska. And I spent a year and a half there, and then went into business. I didn't graduate at that time, but I started -- the renter on my dad's farm left and so I took over that and I started a greenhouse business with my brother, and we raised tomatoes. And I did that for about three years. I kept on farming, but the business needed to expand, you know, for both of us to make a living there, so my brother took over the business and I went to Wayne State and finished up there. And I graduated in 1966, and got a job with Allied Chemical Corporation. I was a district sales manager for fertilizer and farm chemicals for seven years. And after that, my good friend from Madison, Jon Moyer, whose family owned a lot of land, we decided that we were going to be big farmers. So, we started -- we had about 2,000 acres of farm ground and cattle and hogs. And we did that for several years. And after that, I decided to -- I had bought two farms, and so I decided to farm on my own. And then, luckily, an irrigation company asked if I would be their sales representative for irrigation, and we hit just the real good years of 1974 to 1978, and we all thought we were just tremendous salesmen. So, that was good. So, you know, I've been around a lot of the irrigation development out in western Nebraska around the O'Neill and Stuart and that area, and was just really aware of what those folks were doing, as an altogether different type of farming than we did back in Madison or Pierce. I actually moved up to Pierce, Nebraska, after I got married. And I was the first guy in our area to put irrigation down in 1970. I had a sandy quarter and started irrigating it. And I was very interested in irrigation and in farming. I'd spent a lot of time going to the University of Nebraska station at Concord, and the folks there, they had meetings all over. They were very, very helpful. And so, when I -- I wasn't involved in the conservation movement hardly at all until I had heard that the NRDs were coming in. And I was -- so, the first chance I got, I ran for the board in 1974.
MR. BARR: That would have been the first year -- elected year.
MR. MEYER: The first elected year. And I think there were four of us that were running that year, and I was lucky enough to win. And so that's --
MR. BARR: So, how many elections have you won consecutively?
MR. MEYER: Ten.
(Laughter.)
It sure hasn't impressed people that were looking for people for higher office, though.
(Laughter.)
But it's really been interesting. And we had to make a lot of tough decisions during that time, but probably none tougher than the last few years when we've -- when our NRD has limited and then banned new irrigation. So, that is really tough, and especially the last couple years where we have individuals that, according to our rules have broken the rules and they come and ask for a get-together with our board and we have to make an individual decision on whether they can go ahead and advance. That's been really tough. That's probably about as tough, but all through the NRD, there's been a lot of tough decisions with basins and dams and things like that. And the overriding issue has been water, right from the beginning.
MR. BARR: Going back to the beginning of the NRD, at least, do you remember, were some of the interim board members elected to the first board?
MR. MEYER: Oh, yeah, I'd say a good portion of them were.
MR. BARR: Any particular early leaders that were involved in the legislation, for instance, that you might remember or mention?
MR. MEYER: You know, I don't know how involved they were. Ray Vogel (phonetic) was one from Battle Creek, Richard Alexander from Pilger that I can just think of offhand. Richard was our chairman for several years. And then on our first elected board was Val Peterson, former governor, former cabinet member, former ambassador. And he gave us quite a history, you know, of the dams on the Missouri River. He was instrumental in a lot of that. And so, it was -- he was very interesting.
MR. BARR: Was he retired at the time?
MR. MEYER: He was teaching some classes up at Wayne State, but, yeah, he was pretty much retired. But he was -- and he helped us a lot. You know, our first meetings, you know, they went on and on and on into the wee hours of the morning, some of them past 12:00 and 1:00. And he said, “This is crazy.” He says, “You have to get organized here.” And so he was instrumental in getting us to set up committees and that had kind of a rough start, because we had one committee and then those meetings would last forever. And so, finally, we decided to have two committees, but then, at different times, we all meet the same, and then everybody'd be in on one meeting and then on the other meeting, say, “Hell, this isn't working.” So we said, “Well, we'll have to trust each other.” So, we've had, like two committees, main committees, and that split it up. And that's really helped, because usually, what comes before the committee, we get a report. And so, by the time our board meeting comes, we can -- we're pretty well up to speed, and that has -- our board meetings now last probably about two hours instead of seven or eight.
MR. BARR: Other districts reported somewhat similar. What were some of the original projects or programs that you worked -- that the NRD worked with in the first few years?
MR. MEYER: Well, we were -- basic was the terrace program. And we were the first to get money from the Development Fund for a dam down by Maskenthine down by Stanton, which was very controversial at the time. And landowners were pretty vocal, but not as much as a later project. But that was an exciting project and really turned out nice.
MR. BARR: It was multi-purpose?
MR. MEYER: Multi-purpose, you know, and a lot of people complained because there was a recreational component in it. But, you know, that has been just a wonderful part of the dam. And water, early on, in 1976, which would have been just two years after we started, we started our program of checking individual wells for water quantity. And there was some efforts in those early years to put a damper on irrigation or to shut it off entirely. And we thought, well, there's just tons of water out here, so, you know, we -- and it's such a great economic mover and development that we decided that we would watch it. And so we started checking wells in the fall and in the spring, and that kind of quieted some of the people who thought that this was a terrible thing, you know, that they're taking water out.
MR. BARR: Did you have some of the early conflicts up here between private wells -- or personal wells and irrigators? I seem to remember Vince Dreeson being up for a court case up here. I can't remember anything else other than it seemed to be up in this area. But I don't remember when that would have been.
MR. MEYER: Yeah, it could have been. It was not a major thing, because we've always had so much water. You know, there's been problems, especially in the Pierce area where I live, you know, where there's a lot of sand points. You know, drove a pipe down in the ground with a little screen on it and we've had some of those just until recently still working. Of course, there was a problem then with quality, too, you know, with the --
MR. BARR: And it might have been on quality. I don't remember.
MR. MEYER: Yeah, I don't remember particularly that case, but it doesn't surprise me if we were involved in some of that.
MR. BARR: One of the other early ones, as I recall, was the Maple Creek Watershed. Was that significant?
MR. MEYER: That was huge. I think it was PL566, 14 dams or something like that, and our general manager at the time, Steve Oltman, had been brought up to Clarkson to manage the Maple Creek Watershed. So, he was very knowledgeable about it.
MR. BARR: He would have been actually working for that district when it was combined into the NRD, is that right?
MR. MEYER: Yeah, he was, and then, of course, he was our first general manager. And actually, before that came, we were building a -- or wanted to build a dam up in Pierce, the Willow Creek. And that's two and a half miles from where I live. So, I was in the middle of that when I was called everything but a nice guy on that thing. And it was a tough thing. Of course, now it's a shining star example of how nice it can be to live around Pierce, Nebraska.
MR. BARR: When did that go in, roughly?
MR. MEYER: 1982, I think. And as I recall it is, we just had finished it when the Maple Creek really came on, and there was a concerted effort at that time to -- and I might be wrong on those dates, but -- not on Willow Creek when it came it, but when the Maple Creek thing was. But it was a very well orchestrated campaign against that thing. And the wonderful thing about that would have been that was a federal project. So, the local funds would not -- I'm sure there would have been some local funds there, but the -- or maybe it was that we were just getting over Maple Creek -- not Maple Creek, but Maskenthine. I think maybe that would be the better time line, that we had just gone through a very rough time with Maskenthine. I believe that's it. That was the time line. And so then we started in on the 14 dams on Maple Creek, and we thought that it was hard to get the Maskenthine thing going, but, man, I mean, that was some real tough -- and they took a little different tactic, I mean, more of a ridicule-type campaign, you know, that we were out of touch and everything like that. But, you know, really, there were some terrible floods after that project, and it was even a gentleman was killed down in one of the little towns.
MR. BARR: Did some of those structures eventually get built?
MR. MEYER: Well, we built the first one just recently.
MR. BARR: Okay.
MR. MEYER: That would be the Maple Creek at Leigh was the first structure. And so --
MR. BARR: Non-federally funded or --
MR. MEYER: Non-federally funded, yeah. It was Development Funds and NRD funds. And that took 10 years. So the -- I don't know if 14 dams will ever be built on the Maple Creek, but -- and the federal government is not interested in doing that sort of thing anymore, so, yeah, that's -- it seems like whenever we get a majority of new board members that haven't gone through building a dam, then we start another one. So, I think most of the board members that are on the board now, have gone through the Maple Creek, so it might be a while.
MR. BARR: So, it's kind of a one-dam limit per board member?
MR. MEYER: Boy, I'll tell you, and I've been on three of them, so I'm a real brute for punishment.
MR. BARR: Did you have recreation in all of those?
MR. MEYER: Yes.
MR. BARR: Did you have an other recreation-related projects that were over time in the district, trails or --
MR. MEYER: Yes, we've had trails. We built a nice trail around Willow Creek and into town. There's some trails around Maskenthine. There's trails at Leigh. We had some trails there before we built the dam. And now there's trails around the lake. And we have a program where we help individual towns with their recreation needs, and we've funded some trails there, and we've funded some -- helped these folks with playgrounds and other recreational things. So, yeah, we've done a lot.
MR. BARR: Some districts have had some urban/rural conflict within the district on projects. And how is that working in the Lower Elkhorn?
MR. MEYER: Well, we've had our share. You know, Norfolk is our biggest town and the Norfolk mayor and city manager wanted us to cost share on the storm sewers. And we politely told them, no, we didn't do that. You know, we didn't want to get in the storm sewer business, and we just don't have the funds for that. And one of the city council members got on -- ran for the Nebraska Legislature. And his first bill was to secede from our NRD.
MR. BARR: Which one was that?
MR. MEYER: I'll think of his name here. So, we all went down and testified and the state senator was testifying with this committee and they asked him, “Well, what do you think the Norfolk NRD should be?” And he says, “Oh, we'll just take the Elkhorn River on up.” Well, which would have encompassed about three or four NRDs. It never got much traction, but it was --
MR. BARR: You had kind of a reverse effect on that, too, didn't you? Didn't your manager serve on the city council for Norfolk for a period of time? Steve?
MR. MEYER: I don't think he did.
MR. BARR: I thought in the interview it said he'd been on 14 years.
MR. MEYER: On the city council?
MR. BARR: I was going just by the interview and I kind of remember him being on it. I just was curious if that had any effect on relations with --
MR. MEYER: This would have been after Steve had left, but --
MR. BARR: Well, yeah, Steve would have been there, you know, whenever he was up here. I don't remember what year, exactly.
MR. MEYER: You know, I don't remember that, you know.
MR. BARR: Okay, that's fine.
MR. MEYER: I don't remember everything. So, you know, this was some of the things, and just recently a state senator has put some law in about the open meetings law for NRDs. And, you know, we're very careful with open meetings law here and we've been -- while I was chairman, I think we were up before the Attorney General three or four times with complaints, you know, and all were found baseless. So, it's something that we're very aware of and very careful.
MR. BARR: What sort of -- that's a good area to explore. I mean, what sort of public interactions has the NRD had that have been interesting or --
MR. MEYER: Well, when the DNR initially said that we were fully appropriated, we had several very large meetings, 5- to 600 people. And lately, we've had some big meetings where we were trying to establish some sort of mechanism to -- for irrigation development. And we've had a lot of things. And, of course, we've had all of the dam projects, we've had big public hearings, you know, that got very contentious and very tough.
MR. BARR: What kind of regulatory activity have you had?
MR. MEYER: Well, the irrigation thing is probably the biggest, and we spent a lot of time when we were, for three years, you know, we had limited irrigation. And we went with the Soil Conservation Service to set up perimeters and then, so you would apply, and then you'd have to get a test well, and we'd take that into consideration. And then all the things that the Soil Conservation Service had put down, and it was quite extensive, and it's quite a long list of things that people go through. And if somebody applies, they come in and get a number, there's nobody on the board knows who's applying. You know, so there's no interaction there with your buddy, you know, try to get him in or somebody you don't like to try to keep them out. So, nobody knows where it is or anything, and it's just strictly a numerical thing that they go through. And I think that's worked pretty good, but since we had a year ago since we had real conflicts up here, we just stopped all irrigation development. And the strange thing is, is our readings, really, I mean, they've been -- we've had some of the lowest readings in our well this last few years as we've ever had, but there's still tons of water down there. The biggest concern now is a real surprise to me, is that in-season irrigation, that it's where -- if we have real heavy use of irrigation in season, that we can lower the water table enough so that there are people without water, domestic and irrigation wells. And I think the board right now, probably our most adamant for enforcing the rules are our farmers. And we have some areas where they're on allocation. This was a good year, though, that no one used their allocation. But it's the pumping in-season that is causing our problem.
MR. BARR: Is this throughout the district or do you have specific ares where there's a major problem?
MR. MEYER: Well, probably throughout the district, but, you know, this NRD has a lot of aquifer formations, some that are confined, some that are small, and some of them that are in the Ogallala Aquifer, you know, that are huge. So, you know, you get down around Leigh and Clarkson and that area, and those are pretty confined aquifers. And where I live in Pierce, you know, we're in the Ogallala. And the problem we've had in Pierce, oddly enough, is that we've always had so much water that we've had a lot of development out in the country where people want to live out in the country and they put a well down, and the well drillers drilled it down deep, but, you know, there's so much water there, why should I put my pump 200 feet when I can get by with 100? And of course, when they ran out of water, then the well drillers came out and just lowered the pump and then we had water again. You know, it was a pretty good wake-up call for us.
MR. BARR: Did you have any quality regulatory actions?
MR. MEYER: We've had a Phase II water quality in the Osmond, east Pierce area, for it's got to be close to ten years, now.
MR. BARR: Is that nitrate or something else?
MR. MEYER: Nitrates, yeah. And we even have a staff member that his main job is to watch that. Of course, he's a very talented guy, and so when we had all these other water problems, he helped out, so -- but yes, we're water quality, too. And the -- and, of course, we have our rural water systems.
MR. BARR: That's another thing I was going to ask you about, if you want to go into that a little bit.
MR. MEYER: Well, yeah, and, you know, there's a lot of these towns the water quality was so bad that it's really been a really good thing. We have two water systems and now working on a third.
MR. BARR: Where are these roughly? Is that over in the eastern part?
MR. MEYER: Yeah, the eastern -- around Oakland and that area, and then there's one up at Coleridge and Magnet and in that area. And, of course, this other one is south of Norfolk. And hopefully we work with the City of Norfolk, and Madison has extra water, and they're talking all the way to Clarkson from that, Humphrey. So, I mean --
MR. BARR: Pretty good sized area.
MR. MEYER: -- that thing could be huge.
MR. BARR: Have you had any -- I remember some talk at one time of rural water districts in more than one NRD together. Did that ever develop?
MR. MEYER: Yeah, we actually have two of them. We have -- well, the Wau-Col they call it is up at the -- Mosier's NRD, what is that?
MR. BARR: Lewis and Clark.
MR. MEYER: Lewis and Clark up there. Some of that land goes in there and then, actually, I think that we go into the Papio with one of the things. And inside our NRD we have a water district that was in there before, a rural water district around Stanton. So, they're still on their own.
MR. BARR: Yeah, originally, they were not brought into the NRDs, but any future ones would have to be with the NRD, is that right?
MR. MEYER: Yeah. Yeah, there's quite a few water districts out here.
MR. BARR: I'm trying to think. I heard an interesting story reading the transcripts of some of these interviews. And one of them was that Terry Carpenter voted against the NRD legislation, but when somebody approached -- Steve, I think, approached him later, he said, “Well, you know, if you had talked to me, we'd have probably voted yes, but the main reason I voted against it was the mosquito abatement district it would have included.” I didn't remember that particularly until I was reminded of it. Is that an issue that was ever up here?
MR. MEYER: Not that I know of. And, you know, I really wasn't involved in that real early. Actually, in '74, when I came on the board, it was probably, you know, I was involved in some other things. And I was always kind of interest in politics, so I kind of paid attention.
MR. BARR: Was the original district one person, one vote? Or was it --
MR. MEYER: No.
MR. BARR: Did that eventually change?
MR. MEYER: It did change. And I think the first ones, we were in districts. And I don't know if we ever were all at-large or not. You know, I can't remember, but I know that we set up the districts that was one man, one vote. I think that's the way it was. You know, we have one board member that's voted at-large, and the rest of them are districts. And that's changed. And the number of board members has changed. You know, we're down to -- we're 15 right now and there used to be, I don't know, 19, I think. And so, that's changed some.
MR. BARR: Was there a significant difference between once you had switched from the one form of electing to the other, did that make any significant difference in the board composition or the way people approached things?
MR. MEYER: Well, it did. We got a lot more board members from Norfolk, but our board members from Norfolk are very much interested in agriculture. They don't vote against agriculture and just vote for town things. I mean, I think they're very even-minded. The board is -- it's kind of interesting. You know, there are some people that run for the board that are single-issue people, and once they're on the board a while and see the multitude of things we have to deal with, you know, things kind of smooth out and even out, and we're not always all on the same page, but there's good, honest debate and good, honest voting. So, I think our board now, we do have some more -- quite a few younger and they're just excellent. They're smart and up-to-date and good talkers. They don't have to sometime be embarrassed by my long pauses while I was trying to think of something to say.
(Laughter.)
MR. BARR: You've been -- only, basically, had two managers, general manager, I guess.
MR. MEYER: That's right.
MR. BARR: Any comment about either the general manager or the staffing or anything of that nature?
MR. MEYER: Well, you know, our first board, we had a general manager, assistant manager, and a secretary. And that's the way we wanted it. We wanted to keep the bureaucracy, you know, down. And as we -- you know, we got more and more -- we're asked to do more and more things, you know, we just had to have a staff. And this water thing, our biggest department now is the water. And so I think that -- I think both managers that we've had, they had different ways of doing things, but I think they've been very successful. I'm proud of all of them.
MR. BARR: Well, you probably wouldn't have just had two if there had been a problem.
MR. MEYER: Well, you know, there's always problems. You're working with 15 board members and the general manager makes one of them mad, they say, “Well, you know, I know how to take care of this problem. We're going to get rid of the manager.” But, you know, we've weathered those storms and we're in good stead now, I hope we are, with our manager.
MR. BARR: In your time in the board, have you had interactions with either neighboring districts or were you involved with NARD with the association or anything like that?
MR. MEYER: Well, I attended every legislative meeting in January except one when I was ill. And that's always been real source of getting to hear what the governor has to say, and they're usually very complimentary except, I think it was two years ago when there was so much trouble with the Republican River and the big lawsuit with Kansas. The Governor came up, must have been in a foul mood anyway. He says, “You guys are going to have to straighten up. I don't want a mess like we've got down there in the Republican River.” And, of course, then the next -- that was the year that we were slapped with being fully appropriated. I don't know if that was a coincidence or not, but -- and, of course, I was proud of our people in the basin, because we thought it was not good science. And we banded together, we hired a consultant, and we showed the DNR that they had made a mistake and that they weren't doing it right. And so, they had to come up here and rescind that. And I know that that was an embarrassment to the Governor and to the DNR. And I don't know if this last time around when they've changed their way of calculating whether you're fully appropriated or not, but they hired the consultant that we hired to -- so, I don't know if that was done right or if they did such a good job, they wanted to have them on board, but we won't be able to hire them again.
MR. BARR: They didn't do that just to take them away from you, did they?
MR. MEYER: Well, some people have thought that maybe. But I would hope that they hired them because they were really good and had some real good expertise. And we have a new DNR head, which has made life a lot easier for all the NRDs. He's really, I think, a top -- he's working with us and not adversary. And that really has helped a lot. So, you know, the fear of the DNR isn't as much as it used to be. And, you know, we've gone through some scary times where, you know, maybe we are fully appropriated, I don't know. I never thought that we probably ever would be, but, you know, we'll find out.
MR. BARR: Have you had any specific relationship with the Upper Elkhorn?
MR. MEYER: Yeah, we have a basin meeting every year. And, of course, we elect our board member for the Commission. And in years past, it's been kind of passed back and forth, but there's been a little break in that, so the gentleman's agreement was broken, we thought. So, now we've had the board member for the last, oh, I don't know, ten years or so. But, you know, when we started out, it'd be four years. And then the next guy would be four years, and we'd go back and forth. But so, other than that, you know, we work real close.
MR. BARR: Probably kind of exhausted my general area of questions, but I mainly now is just basically looking back on it and -- well, first of all, have I missed some things about -- that the NRD's been involved in or anything that we should mention or that you -- and then just get into a general discussion of how you've seen things evolve over time and your overall evaluation of it and all that sort of thing.
MR. MEYER: Well, after I was elected and on the board, they had the fall meeting. And so, I was very interested in that. I was -- you know, wanted to see what was going on. And the big buzz down there at that time was trans-basin diversion. And the story was that T. Boone Pickens was going to build a pipeline and suck all of our water, get it down to Texas. So, that was a big discussion and I came home and told my wife about it, and she says, “Boy, you must have had quite a discussion. You made the paper.” So, the Norfolk paper had a big article on it and the Omaha paper. And, wow, there's some --
(Laughter.)
And, of course, I found out through the years that making the paper wasn't all that neat sometimes. But we've been very fortunate. The Norfolk Daily News has been very supportive of us and what we try to do. You know, there's no rubber stamp, by any means, but have been generally pretty supportive. And we've had a newspaperman that's covered us just about as long as I've been on the board, so that's kind of amazing.
MR. BARR: Interesting.
MR. MEYER: Greg Wees. And he's very good. And so, I appreciated that. And, you know, it takes a lot of time. We spend a lot of time on it, and I was involved in a lot of other things during this time. I was on the Corn Board and ABN, and a lot of other farm organizations.
MR. BARR: ABN is?
MR. MEYER: Ag Builders --
MR. BARR: Oh, sure, Ag Builders, right.
MR. MEYER: -- of Nebraska.
MR. BARR: I just hadn't heard the ABN.
MR. MEYER: Yeah, ABN, that's what we said. And, you know, I never had a hired man, so when I was gone, Nancy had to kind of take over, and so -- she never has complained about the time I was gone. When I was on the Corn Board, I went to -- on a trip to Japan and Korea and Taiwan in kind of a trade deal. And, you know, she's been really good, so -- you probably have one of those wives, too, that -- when you were gone.
MR. BARR: Yes, I was gone quite a bit, too.
MR. MEYER: But, you know, it's been interesting. I've been chairman three times. We decided that we didn't want one chairman to be chairman forever.
MR. BARR: Yeah.
MR. MEYER: And so we decided we'd -- and that's the way with all our officers, it's just two-year terms. And then you have to be off and then you can be on again. So, I've been three times chairman, one time vice-chairman, and one term as treasurer and one term as secretary. So, had that covered. But I did not serve on the NARD board. There were other people more interested in that. I was more interested in the local stuff. And so, I never got involved too much with what they do down there.
MR. BARR: Looking back what you might have expected when you came on the board in '74 and how the NRD has evolved since then, any thoughts on that general evolution?
MR. MEYER: Well, and it was an evolution. It took quite a bit of time. You know, we'd get more responsibility. We had to add a staff member. And sometimes the Legislature asked us to take on more responsibility or there was just more responsibility developed. And so that is a surprise that we have as big a staff as we do. And they're all busy. But we're expected to do a lot of things, and a lot of real technical things. So, we really have a good staff here and dedicated staff. That's surprised me. If you'd have told -- I don't know how many people we have working here now, but if you'd have told me that in 1974 that we'd have that many people, we'd have just been shocked and aghast, you know, that couldn't be. This isn't what we want to do. And what, you know -- over it all, the water's been the most important thing. You know, when we first were in -- in '74, we were putting in a lot of terraces, a lot of tile waterways and things like that, not so much anymore. It's all no-till. And there's some problems with no-till. We just had a contractor talk to us at our last committee meeting. He said that most of his work now is to fill in the ditches from the no-till, you know, from the -- and he says some of it's serious. So, you know, that might come back, and rather than terraces of putting in basins.
MR. BARR: I had Steve Thick (phonetic) tell me that the formula that they use on minimum till is very good in terms of sheet erosion, but there's absolutely nothing in there on gully erosion. And it's purely just arbitrary how that's been. And that, apparently, is an issue that's going to surface more and more as the time -- I've noticed it in our area, too, that we're seeing that. Every year, people will bring in the dirt and fill them in. Well, at some point, that will have an impact, I assume.
MR. MEYER: It has a big impact, it will. And pretty immediate, too, because that's gone.
MR. BARR: Another thing, apparently, is the Atrazine -- or not Atrazine, Roundup has kind of made it inconvenient to stop for waterways.
MR. MEYER: Yes.
MR. BARR: And I don't know if precision ag will overcome that by automatically turning sprayers on and off in certain areas, but right now, I think that's also been one of the issues that have brought our ways out of the --
MR. MEYER: And I think that could, with GPS that could do that. But I know that the contractor that was talking to us, he says, right now, you know, the big sprayers come in and spray it and your waterway is gone. So, they're talking more tile outlets, but you can't have a tile outlet unless you have a basin. So, yeah, there's some things coming. And a lot of it's because of the bigger equipment.
MR. BARR: One other area that the University kind of raised the question, this Water and Food group about whether the NRD idea might have applicability worldwide. And on the other hand, Nebraska's still the only state that's adopted it. Do you have any thoughts on why it might have worked in Nebraska and why it's not picked up by anybody else?
MR. MEYER: Well, you know, I don't know. I know that I used to go to the national meeting, and now I kind of let people that haven't been there go. But in talking to those folks, it's almost like their conservation -- soil conservation districts are as much social as they are doing conservation work. And I think a lot of -- it would be hard for some of those to give that up. And that's just kind of looking from the outside. And, you know, a lot of them have told me they don't have any taxing authority. They'd love to have that, but, you know, to carry on some conservation work. But I don't know, that's pretty well entrenched.
MR. BARR: Well, at this point, if you just have any kind of observation at all or anything you'd like to mention, have at it.
MR. MEYER: You know, it's been -- I can't believe it's been -- I'll be starting my 40th year. A lot of meetings. And I think that it's been worthwhile. I hope I've added something. I know I was sure dragging my feet on any kind of restriction of irrigation until a year ago. Boy, I'll tell you, then on -- when irrigators come in and say, “I'm out of water,” that's scary. Where I thought we would never be out of water. And like I said before, it looks like it's an in-season thing, because they've come back, and we haven't had a lot of rain. We're dry right now, and Willow Creek Recreation Area, the dam area has really receded again. It's really low, which is a pretty good indication that it's really dry out there. So, it's something I'm really happy to see some younger people willing to serve. And they're really bright, really articulate, really good, and real leaders. And I think this system really works, because there are good people that are willing to step up. We've had a couple resignations and we've had some people that have applied and I don't know how in the world we're going to pick one, because they're all so good, bring in great backgrounds. So, I think it's worked out well, and there's still good people willing to serve. And once in a while, we'll have a single-issue person, but I've never seen that after a while that that hasn't changed. And so, you know, I think it works. I think it's a good deal, and I hope it continues.
MR. BARR: Have there been competitive races for the board spots?
MR. MEYER: We've had a few. I know my first three or four were competitive. After that they kind of quit, but --
(Laughter.)
So, I'm up for reelection this year again, so I don't know how that will go. You know, 40's a nice round number.
MR. BARR: Well, you don't look any older than you did the last time I saw you.
MR. MEYER: Yeah, right.
(Laughter.)
You either, Jim.
MR. BARR: Thank you, thank you. Well, unless there's something else you'd like to mention, I really appreciate you doing this.