Upper Big Blue NRD Places a Temporary Stay on well Drilling in Sub-Areas
The Upper Big Blue NRD Board of Directors issued a temporary 180-day stay on well drilling in District sub-areas at the April 17th Board Meeting. The stay is immediately in effect. Representatives from the Villages of Dwight and Brainard had expressed concern over the future viability of their water supply and the impact that surrounding irrigation wells have on their municipal wells’ ability to pump water for citizens. Municipal concerns, along with drought conditions experienced during 2012 and 2013, prompted the temporary stay.
By statute, NRDs have the authority to put an immediate temporary stay on well drilling. At some point during the 180-day stay, a public hearing will be scheduled to discuss further actions regarding the stay. The stay allows NRD board and staff members to review data in the sub-areas, further research possible solutions and alternatives to alleviate concerns within these areas, and develop a common-sense approach to mitigate current and future issues regarding water quantity and quality in the affected areas of the District.
Several sub-areas within the District are known to have marginal aquifers. The selected sub-areas for the stay encompass 1,064 square miles, or about 37% of the District’s total 2,863 square miles. The stay affects portions of each of the nine counties that make up the District. The resulting geologic conditions are such that construction of additional high-capacity irrigation wells could increase the likelihood of future municipal and domestic well interference issues. The Upper Big Blue NRD office has maps available delineating the 180-day stay sub-areas. This map can also be found at the www.upperbigblue.org website homepage.
Conditions of the stay on well drilling
Under the stay, the following conditions apply: Drilling of replacement wells is allowed; Water wells of public water suppliers are exempt from the stay (this includes but is not limited to test holes, monitoring wells, and livestock and domestic wells with a pumping capacity of 50 gallons per minute or less).