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Omaha Magazine

Omaha Magazine - March/April 2023 - The Drought Issue

Feb 24, 2023 10:21AM ● By Julius Fredrick

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

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Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting over,” wrote American author Mark Twain, though this attribution is murky at best. Still, the quote is unmistakably a product of America’s Wild West era—you can practically hear the gravel in the words, followed by a tipped hat from the ‘Man with No Name.’ However, when its comes to water rights—and magnifying glasses scanning centuries-old treaties—severe drought tends to leave scorch marks. Under such conditions, it’s hard to say who’s “good” and who’s “bad.” But between the political posturing, the dried-up riverbeds, and genuine anxieties over what might come to pass, there’s little question that it’s “ugly” when interstate conflict occurs, as Nebraska and Colorado can attest.

Our cover subject, cattle rancher Howard “Howdy” Benjamin of Cozad, Nebraska, is keenly aware of the effects of the historic drought conditions blanketing the state, especially on surface waters like the Platte River and its tributaries. Still, he’s optimistic that, between the state’s unique resource infrastructure (divided among 23 Natural Resource Districts, or NRDs) and advancements in agricultural technology like pivot irrigation systems, our groundwater will keep Nebraska afloat—for now.

Our March/April edition’s environmental theme passes from policy and science, and from one generation to the next, to the realm of creativity and art with Howdy’s daughter, Jess Benjamin. Jess utilizes ceramics to illustrate the effects of an increasingly parched world, with recent projects depicting the exposed intake towers of Lake Mead and the “jackstones” of Nebraska’s Kingsley Dam built to be submerged in water that no longer flows. 

Though making waves may be more difficult riverside, our profile subject, William King Jr., has no trouble making them, figuratively speaking, on-air. His two broadcast channels, 1690 AM The One and 95.7 FM The Boss, seek to utilize “the power of words” to inform, entertain, and ultimately better, the Omaha community. 

Our chef profile this issue circles back, as all roads seem to in Nebraska, to beef. Andrew Miller owns and operates Casanova’s Butchery in Rockbrook Village, and while he indeed sources all of his beef from Nebraska, his selection of carefully cured and curated meats include a wide range of influences: Spanish chorizo, German speck, and Italian prosciutto to name a few. 

While the content in this issue of Omaha Magazine might be described as “parched,” we’ve tried our best to make it anything but “dry.” After all, our community’s resources, both natural and
human, are not only precious—they’re also thought-provoking. As always, thanks for reading.

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