2023 - 2024 Lake Hastings Water Quality Management Plan

Hastings PictureThe City of Hastings is partnering with the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District (UBBNRD), Little Blue Natural Resources District (LBNRD) and the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) to develop a watershed management plan for Lake Hastings and its surrounding watershed. The city has hired JEO Consulting Group, to assist in the planning process. 

The plan will include voluntary recommendations to improve water quality, ensure public safety, enhance aquatic life and improve fishing opportunities within the lake.

Study Area

  • The Lake Hastings Watershed area is approximately 5,400 acres.

  • Of this total, about 60% of land area is farmland, 36% is classified as urban, and the remaining is the lake itself or other natural features, including forests and wetlands.

  • The Lake area covers just under 70 acres, not including the sediment basin.

What is a watershed area?

A watershed area is the defined land area that channels rainfall and snowmelt into existing creeks, streams, and rivers. 

The size of a watershed (also called a drainage basin or catchment) varies greatly. A watershed can be small, such as a modest inland lake or a single county or large and encompass thousands of square miles.

Water from hundreds, and often thousands, of creeks and streams flow from higher ground to rivers that eventually wind up in a larger waterbody. As the water flows, it often picks up pollutants, which may impact the ecology of the watershed.

Click here to learn more about watershed areas!

Why is the plan needed?

Due to pollution from many sources, Lake Hastings does not currently meet the needs of the community. Through routine monitoring, NDEE first identified the lake as “impaired” in 2010, when it was discovered that the lake did not meet state water quality standards. Since that time, project partners have been looking for opportunities to address the problems and enhance this regularly used community asset.

The lake is considered “impaired” due to poor water quality. Sampling has found high levels of algae growth, which can be caused by high nutrient levels (nitrogen and phosphorus), or excess sedimentation (usually from erosion or sedimentation). These issues can impact human health and safety, harm aquatic life and fish habitat, and decrease recreational opportunities. 

What is a watershed plan?

The watershed plan is a 100% voluntary process and includes the following elements:

  • In-depth study of the existing lake conditions
  • Identification of pollutant sources
  • Recommendations for projects and best practices that could be adopted by community members and farmers
  • Identification of funding sources to assist with implementation
  • The planning process is being guided and receiving feedback from local stakeholders and includes several opportunities for public involvement.

Who is involved?

Residents, businesses, farmers, and recreational users in the Lake Hastings watershed will be invited to participate in the study through a stakeholder workshop with opportunities to review the draft recommendations. The draft plan will be shared with the public for review and feedback at an open house meeting in early 2024. The goal is to have a plan that is supported by the public to improve the future voluntary adoption of practices. Following public review the plan will be finalized and adopted by the city.

How is this process funded?

The NDEE has provided grant funding for the planning process, which covers approximately 60% of the cost. The remaining costs are being split equally between the city, UBBNRD, and LBNRD. Potential funding for future design or implementation of recommendations will be identified within the plan. It should be noted that the city is not obligated to implement the plan.


  • A project kick-off meeting was held on August 22, 2023, with the project sponsors
  • The stakeholder workshop will be held on November 29, 2023, from 5-7 p.m. at the Hastings Public Library.
  • The draft plan will be available for public review and input in early 2024.
  • An public open house meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 13, 2024 from 4:00  - 6:00pm at the Hastings Municipal Airport. All members of the public are encouraged to attend and learn about the final plan recommendations to improve water quality in the Lake Hastings watershed area. There will be no formal presentation. Attendees are encouraged to walk through open house stations at their own pace and speak to project team members at the meeting.



To learn more about this project or for questions, please contact Bryce Helms, City of Hastings Stormwater Technician at (402) 461-2330 or email Storm Water General Questions.