"Water stewardship has been something that in Nebraska we've done a good job of in the past. There's a requirement to do a good job now. Water use decisions are made at the local level through our Natural Resources District network in the state. We have a Department of Water Resources that oversees that, as well. If somebody's going to use water for any application, you've got to offset that use. So, for example, when an ethanol plant goes into an area that's fully appropriated [all the river or groundwater legally committed to one user] in the state, they've got to, in effect, buy the water right from somebody who might have been using that water to irrigate corn. And so, these use decisions are made in a thoughtful, deliberative way. And yet, many of the articles today simply don't talk about this process. They assume that these plants are using more and more water and that corn producers are using more and more water to respond to this growing demand for ethanol. In fact, what we see is simply a reallocation of that resource.
"And I think it's important for people to understand that all manufacturing uses water. To produce a Sunday newspaper uses 150 gallons of water. To water a City of Lincoln golf course takes almost 300,000 gallons of water. To refine a barrel of oil into gasoline takes almost 2,000 gallons of water, and we get about of 20 gallons of gasoline from that barrel of oil. So, if we put this in context, again, I think it makes it easier to understand that water is used for a variety of different things, it's been a productive use in Nebraska, and now we're simply determining at a local level how do we want to allocate that resource. We're making decisions I think at the local level where the best decisions are made. And I think those are decisions that ultimately tend to the most productive decisions
"One of the most disturbing proposals I've heard in recent years has been the idea that water would be pumped from wells in north central Nebraska and pumped into rail cars and unit trains of water would go to the front range of Colorado, particularly to Denver. That really brought home to me the point that water truly is valuable. If you can't understand it any other way, that context really puts the idea of value and water together.
"I think as we've taken a look at Nebraska, we historically have mined water, at least from the aquifer. And we've mined it and applied it as a resource to help us primarily in agricultural methods other processing as well, but in large part in agriculture. Much of that water tends to go back into the environment. Most plant geneticists and those involved in agriculture understand that, in effect, as a corn plant is growing it aspirates water, it discharges water as part of that process."