More About the Author
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I grew up on a small family farm near Clarkson, Nebraska, in the eastern part of the state. From
an early age, I was intrigued by water. My great-grandparents, Vaclav & Katherine Cech
(pronounced "check"), homesteaded the farm in 1879, and built a two-story frame house next to
a dry creek bed. We never bothered to name the creek that only flowed intermittently since it was
so small and dry most of the time. However, summer thunderstorms filled it quickly, and carried
a surprisingly large volume of water downstream to Maple Creek. My sister, Judy, brother, Jerry,
and I crossed Maple Creek everyday on our walk to our one-room country school - District 14.
It was a typical, white clapboard Nebraska rural school of the 1960s that had an oil furnace,
wooden floors, and a ceramic water jug since we had no indoor plumbing. The water jug was
filled every morning at the Novotny farm just down the road.
The Cech farm relied on the Nebraska wind and a Chicago-made windmill for drinking water.
The windmill pumped water through a system of buried pipe to a cement-lined vault buried
underground. The water storage vault, called a cistern, was a marvel of engineering to a young
Nebraska farm kid. Once a year we let all the faucets in the house run until the cistern was
emptied. Then, my older brother took a wooden ladder and climbed down into the cistern to
clean out the silt and sand that had settled to the bottom. We used a corn scoop shovel and a
metal bucket for the job. The bucket had a rope tied to the handle, and my job was to pull each
bucket-full of dirty water and sand out of the cistern, and get rid of it above ground. The entire
process fascinated me. How did my grandparents know to drill a well at that spot to find water?
Who laid out the network of buried pipes on our farm? How did the groundwater get beneath our
farm in the first place?
When I grew older, I crossed the Platte River many times near Columbus and Grand Island,
Nebraska on my trips home from college at Kearney State. The Platte River was not very deep,
but its broad sweep across Nebraska impressed me. If I was lucky, my drives along the Platte
River coincided with the annual sandhill crane migration that announced spring on the prairie.
As an adult, I=ve worked in the field of water resources in Utah, Colorado, and Nebraska. My
academic background includes a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from Kearney State
College (now the University of Nebraska at Kearney), and a Masters in Community & Regional
Planning from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. I=ve been involved in water development and
conservation, environmental issues, endangered species protection, groundwater management,
lobbying at the state and federal level, and in education. I have contemplated writing a book
about water for years.
In some ways, the idea for this textbook began on my daily walk to the little one-room country
school on the Nebraska prairie (or it may have germinated as I was pulling up buckets of sand
from our farm cistern on the hill). Or, there may have also been something special in the drinking
water in the area around School District 14. Sandra Novotny was my classmate that lived on the
farm where we fetched the daily bucket of drinking water for school. Today, Sandra is President
of Nova Environmental Services in Kensington, Maryland, and is a consultant for the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, among other clients. Dr. Glenn Cada, who lived a few miles
to the west of the school, is now one of the country=s leading authorities of salmon migration
along the Columbia River. Glenn works for the Oakridge National Laboratory in Oakridge,
Tennessee, and his review and comments in Chapter 12 are most appreciated. Lorraine Smith,
formerly Lorraine Tuma, lived just over the hill to the east of our windmill, and is now the Town
Clerk for the Town of Clarkson, Nebraska. Lorraine helped the community develop a wellhead
protection program (discussed in Chapter 11), to protect the quality of local drinking water
supplies. And finally, my brother, Leroy (the one who cleaned the bottom of the cistern and then
went on to receive his Masters Degree from the University of California-Davis) is gaining a new
appreciation for water resources management and policy after reviewing the manuscript for this
textbook endless times, in between trips to the family cabin on Birch Lake just outside Ely,
Working in the field of water resources is fantastic. I hope you learn a great deal from this
textbook - about water, about our world, and about yourself.