Renee Sans Souci grew up in Lincoln, hearing stories of sweat lodges, sun dances, and vision quests from her parents and grandparents. But she never got to see any of her family’s Omaha traditions as a kid.

Nebraska’s capital city has a strong economy, a well-respected university and a vibrant downtown. But from a water supply standpoint, Lincoln has always been a little precarious.

On a warm, sandy beach near Ashland, Neb., biology intern Lindsay Brown picks up a small mottled egg and holds it to her ear, listening for telltale scratching. Hearing nothing, she places it back into its nest—a small hollowed patch of sand. It’s a hot July afternoon, near the end of the nesting season, and she’s checking least tern and piping plover nests for late bloomers.

Gill moved to Lincoln, Nebraska from Israel when he was 14-years-old. Not only did he find the different toilets and impeccably green lawns unusual, but he noticed the topic of water was rarely on people’s minds, or even considered a priority.

Many would assume Little Salt Creek to be little more than a small stream for water to run through with no more than the occasional duck along it. Though it lies only a few yards from a gravel road, which frequently growls with single car traffic through the mornings and afternoon, it is filled with a more life than I could have guessed.