District Board Addresses Compact Call Years

District Board Addresses Compact Call Years


Curtis, NE - At the District's first board meeting for 2014, Board members of the Middle Republican NRD voted to take to hearing the following rule change: Restrict ground water pumping to 15" for any year that is declared a compact call year. This will not affect the 5 year allocation and irrigation may resume with normal restrictions during regular allocation years. Irrigators will not lose any of their earned carryover. Those inches will be available during normal compact years. The penalty for over pumping during compact call years will be much harsher than over pumping during regular allocation years.

The adopted changes will help producers plan ahead and adjust their operation accordingly in anticipation of compact call years in the future. 2014 has been officially declared a water short year. The hearing is scheduled for February 11 at 1:00 PM and will precede the regular board meeting.

In other efforts to stay in compliance with the District Integrated Management Plan and to assist Nebraska to remain in compliance with the Republican River Compact, the board voted to make an offer to the Frenchman Valley and H&RW Irrigation Districts to purchase surface water out of Enders Reservoir. This surface water would be allowed to flow to the Republican River and into Kansas.

The N CORPE project is a couple of weeks behind schedule according to Board Chairman Buck Haag. Easements are being sought for privately owned culverts that are in the path of the pipe and difficulties encountered while boring under gas lines are the primary reasons for the setback. Also, Buck Haag and Bill Hoyt, board representatives on the N CORPE committee announced that they are stepping down from this duty and invited other board members to "take their turn". Board members Brad Randel and Benjie Loomis were nominated to represent the Middle Republican NRD on the N CORPE Board.

During the Variance Hearing, the Board heard a request from Amanda Johnson of Hayes Center to allow two new wells on her property and to close two existing wells. Johnson explained the soils on her existing irrigated land probably should have never been cultivated because it is very sandy and hilly. The new ground is more level and has tighter soils. She would save water irrigating the new ground. She would plant the old fields to grass. The Board approved the variance request.

Jason Kennedy, the District Conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, reported that the Conservation Stewardship sign up deadline has been extended to February 7. He also reported that the pre-approval process for Environmental Quality Incentives Programs or EQIP applications has begun. Lastly, Kennedy indicated that the NRCS has funding to offer $439.09 per acre to permanently convert irrigated acres to dryland acres. The board voted to approve a cost share of $1564.91 per acre for a total compensation of $2,000.00 per acre applicable only to acres within the 60% depletion area. 

Lastly, Assistant Manager Robert Merrigan reported that for 2013, ground water irrigators pumped an average of 10.13" across the district. N-CORPE's water use for establishing a ground cover on the old crop fields was 5.29". By county, Frontier averaged 10.31"; Hayes averaged 10.21; Hitchcock averaged 9.75"; Lincoln averaged 9.79"; and Red Willow averaged 10.59".

Merrigan also reported that the Department of Natural Resources funds are available again this year to help pay for two dry year leases that were funded last year. BeeBee has accepted an Acres Retirement Program (ARP) of $55,475.00 for surface water rights for 2014.

The board heard public comments from seven individuals during public forum. Dan Hughes of Venango in Perkins Co. introduced himself as a candidate for the Senate representing the 44th District. Tim McKillip of Hayes County asked why we had to reduce allocations when we are in compliance with Kansas. Dan Estermann of Lincoln Co. expressed concerns about culverts being modified as part of the N-CORPE project. Randy Robinson of Lincoln Co. asked why we aren't following the recommendations made by the General Manager in December, which was, "Take no actions..." (Return to the 5 year 60" allocation). Haag responded by saying that a lot has changed since December. Bill Barger of Culbertson asked the Board to allow irrigators to use more water. Josh Friesien of Wallace and former board member asked the board to consider the costs of N-CORPE and the costs to the producer as they consider allocations for this year. Sylvia Johnson read a statement on behalf of absent board member Blaine Stinson. He was recommending to the board to consider a higher hard cap than the 12" used in 2013 such as a hard cap of 14 to 15 inches. He felt "that the potential for a runaway on water use is very slim".

The Middle Republican NRD protects lives, property and the future of the District through a wide range of stewardship, management and education programs-from flood control to groundwater monitoring, from irrigation management to soil conservation and more. Activities and projects of the Middle Republican NRD are reviewed and approved by a locally elected board of directors. For more information, visit or call 1-800-873-5613.