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The newly formed Joint Water Management Board held its first official meeting on Thursday in an effort to get the ball rolling on addressing flood and drainage management throughout the area.

The recently formed board includes a number of local entities including the City of Fremont, Dodge County, Village of Inglewood, City of North Bend, Lower Platte North Natural Resource District, Cotterell Diking and Drainage District, Ames Diking and Drainage District, North Bend Diking and Drainage District, Elkhorn Township, Platte Township, Sanitary and Improvement District No. 3 near Lake Venture and Sanitary and Improvement District No. 5 near Timberwood.

The new Joint Water Management Advisory Board includes two representatives from each separate entity.

During its first meeting, Joint Water Management Advisory Board members provided updates about the extent of flood damage in the area each controls, as well as efforts already undertaken to repair levees, roads and other damages.

In its first-ever action, the board unanimously voted to consider filing a request for public assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“Since this entity (Joint Water Management Advisory Board) is now an official entity we can also file and register with FEMA,” Fremont City Administrator Brian Newton said. “It doesn’t cost anything, and maybe we can figure out a way to use this entity to fund some repair projects.”

Along with approving the filing for public assistance as the Joint Water Management Board, representatives confirmed that each separate entity involved in the board has also already filed with FEMA for public assistance.

All representatives also indicated that they had not been contacted by FEMA representatives regarding their public assistance applications.

“We are waiting for exploratory calls and waiting for FEMA representatives to reach out,” Dodge County Emergency Manager Tom Smith said. “They (FEMA) have talked to Scribner and Winslow, so they are making their way slowly.”

The board also recommended filing a notice of intent to apply for funds from the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission’s Water Sustainability Fund and the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

The applications serve as a first-step in procuring funds to conduct studies focused on flooding and drainage issues throughout Dodge County.

“A lot of times if you go to the Corps (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers” or FEMA and you don’t have a study they are not really willing to help you,” Newton said. “I would suggest doing a scoping document that would lead to a multi-million dollar application for funds to help us long term to determine what it is going to take to fix the flood and drainage issues in Dodge County.”

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