Task Force recommends raising $50 million for water sustainability

A task force created by the Legislature is recommending a mix of taxes to raise $50 million a year to help sustain the state's precious water resources.

The Lincoln Journal Star says a report by the 34-member water task force indciates that while Nebraska is endowed with extraordinary water resources that fuel a thriving agricultural economy, the state "stands at a critical juncture with water issues."

The task force recommended a mix of taxes to establish a Water Sustainability Fund to help the state deal with its water issues including removing the sales tax exemption from bottled water and/or soft drinks, introducing or revising taxes on sand and gravel, oil and gas, uranium and trace elements, and introducing an excise tax on ethanol and similar products.

The commission also suggested introducing a tax on commercial and residential fertilizer,dedicating 1/8 of one percent of the existing state sales tax to water projects, and establishing a revolving loan fund for water sustainability projects.

The task force also recommended a public education campaign be initiated to show that important gains in water sustainability can be achieved through water conservation and practices that minimize impacts to both water quantity and water quality.

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