Upper Big Blue NRD Dispels Myths and Rumors Surrounding Upcoming Public Hearing
YORK, NE --The Upper Big Blue NRD will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, November 5, 2013, at 2:00 p.m. at the York City Auditorium, located at the intersection of 6th Street and Nebraska Avenue, York, Nebraska. An informational meeting, beginning at 1:30 p.m., will precede the hearing. Recently, the NRD has been fielding comments and concerns about what exactly the proposed changes to RULE 5 means for producers:
1). Allocation Trigger: The Allocation Trigger on the Upper Big Blue NRD’s average groundwater level chart is already in place. In fact, it has been since 1990. Because of the 2012 drought, and subsequent heavy pumping of groundwater to irrigate crops, the average groundwater level in the Upper Big Blue NRD has seen its largest one year decline since record keeping began in 1961. “We could get to allocation in one dry season, or we might get a wet season or two, and not get there for a few years,” stated John Turnbull, General Manager of the Upper Big Blue NRD.
2). Allocation Amount: The proposed changes to Rule 5 will set the first allocation of 45 acre inches over five years. You can choose how much or little water you need to use as long as it is 45 acres inches over the five year period. The average is 9 acre inches per year, however a producer can choose to use 20” acre inches in year one, 20” in year two, 5” in year 3, and 0” in years four and five.
3). Flow Meters:The proposed changes require that ALL wells with a pumping capacity greater than 50 gpm be equipped with a flow meter. The proposed deadline for flow meter installation would be January 1, 2015. Flow meters are necessary to accurately record water use. If a meter is not installed by the proposed date, and the District is under the allocation period, then no water can be pumped.
4). NO RESTRICTION on expansion of irrigated acres; NO MORITORIUMS on well drilling: (Except for the already designated fully appropriated area in Northern Hamilton County). Otherwise, there is no well drilling moratorium, and no restriction of expanding acres for irrigation with the proposed allocation.
5). Groundwater Transfers Would CEASE:Language has been included in the proposed changes to Rule 5 to allow for the cancellation of a groundwater transfer if the groundwater user does not comply with the transfer regulations or conditions placed on the authorization at the time it was issued.
6). Certified Groundwater Use Acres and Pooling: Proposed changes to Rule 5 provide for the combining of certified groundwater use acres into units. A unit of groundwater use acres consists of acres in the same government survey section or irrigated by the same well that are under the control of one groundwater user. The term “pooling” refers to the combining of certified Groundwater Use Acres (irrigated acres) for the purpose of determining what lands will be assigned an allocation.
The Upper Big Blue NRD Board of Directors value the comments and suggestions of the citizens they represent. The public is strongly encouraged to attend the November 5 Public Hearing. Written comments will be accepted following the public hearing until November 12, 2013, 5 p.m., at which point the public hearing process will close.
A copy of the proposed changes to Rule 5 is available upon request at the NRD office at 105 N. Lincoln Avenue, York, Nebraska, and on the NRD website at: www.upperbigblue.org. Activities and projects of the Upper Big Blue NRD are reviewed and approved by a locally elected Board of Directors. The Upper Big Blue NRD is one of 23 Natural Resources Districts across the state. For more information please call (402) 362-6601.