Gov. Ricketts Names New Director of the State’s Department of Natural Resources


Governor Pete Ricketts announced the appointment of Thomas Riley of Eagle as Director of the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (NeDNR).  Riley currently serves as President of the Flatwater Group, a firm with offices in Lincoln and Imperial that specializes in water resources engineering, restoration design, and environmental engineering.

“Tom brings a wealth of experience in water resources planning and environmental engineering to the Department of Natural Resources,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “He has effectively managed a number of large-scale projects, such as hydrologic analyses and flood control efforts.  From our family farms to municipal water partners, Tom’s expertise and proven leadership will help Nebraska be a wise steward of our water resources as we grow our state.”

Riley is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) where he received a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and a Master of Science in Civil Engineering.  He is a registered professional engineer in Nebraska, and a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers.  Riley’s first professional water project came while he was still in graduate school when he helped bring closure to a drainage dispute between neighbors.  He worked for over a decade as a senior engineer and project manager for a national firm.  He’s spent the past twenty years at the Flatwater Group, where he is a company founder.  At the Flatwater Group, he’s managed water projects across the state including irrigation and water supply, restoration of Nebraska’s unique saline wetlands, and stream and reservoir restoration.  Riley has also taught courses in UNL’s civil engineering department and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Biological Systems Engineering.

“I was born and raised in this beautiful state and fortunate to visit so many areas over the years.  I’m still amazed of Nebraska’s beauty and plentiful water resources,” said Riley.  “I’m honored to have the opportunity to help grow Nebraska through the wise stewardship of our abundant natural resources.”

Riley’s first day as NeDNR Director will be November 1, 2020, and his salary will be $170,000.