New NRD Rules Protect Ground Water Users

New NRD Rules Protect Ground Water Users


LINCOLN (NE) January 16, 2014 - The Lower Platte South Natural Resources District will allow irrigators who use sprinkler/pivot type systems to apply 21 acre inches of water to their crops in the 158 square-mile Dwight-Valparaiso-Brainard (DVB) area of the District over the next three years. No more than 9 acre inches may be applied in a single year. The Board hopes those changes, along with similar allocations for gravity irrigators, will help all wells in the DVB area during summer irrigation season. A well moratorium was imposed there in September by the Board in response to well problems and additional irrigation development.

The NRD received over 300 responses to a survey of landowners in the affected area, including 53 landowners who indicated they had had well problems over the last two years.

• A continued stay on the certification of additional ground water irrigated acres
• Allocations on ground water used for irrigation; 21 acre-inches over three years, with no more than 9 acre inches applied in any one year for sprinkler irrigation and 30 acre-inches over three years, with no more than 12 acre inches applied in any one year through gravity irrigation systems.
• Educational certifications for irrigators
• Establishment of a stakeholder advisory group
• Special cost-sharing by the NRD
• Require new wells to be of adequate depth
• Formal consideration of any new or replacement well by the NRD Board

The NRD's proposed change to annually limit pivot irrigators to 7 acre inches and 10 acre inches for gravity irrigators drew mixed response at a public hearing January 9 in Valparaiso, attended by about 150 people. Most who spoke asked the Board for more flexibility that would allow more than 7 acre inches to be applied by pivot irrigators each year. The Board's Water Resources Subcommittee then recommended a 3-year allocation of 21 acre inches with an annual maximum of 9 acre inches for pivots and a 3-year, 30 acre inch allocation with an annual maximum of 12 acre inches for gravity irrigators.

During the Board's regular meeting Wednesday, there was a proposal to ease the restriction to 24 acre inches over three years, with a 9.5 inch single-year limit, but that proposed amendment failed. One amendment was added calling for the NRD to establish a stakeholder advisory group of water users to help monitor needs and make recommendations to the Board in the future.

The changes made to the NRD's Ground Water Rules and Regulations include:

The changes were approved by the Board on a 16-2 vote, with three excused absences. The changes will take effect March 1st.