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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Officials offer three options for water cuts

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

CURTIS -- State water officials have offered three options to keep Nebraska in compliance with the Republican River Compact during dry years.

One option to make sure enough water gets to Kansas could be to reduce Nebraska groundwater irrigation allocations to 3.6 inches in the Lower Republican Natural Resources District, 4.8 inches in the Middle Republican NRD and 5.9 inches in the Upper Republican NRD.

Affected basin acres would total 76,900 in the Lower Republican, 59,000 in the Middle Republican and 45,000 for the Upper Republican, MRNRD board members were told Tuesday night.

Department of Natural Resources computer modeler Jim Schneider presented three options to ensure Nebraska's compact compliance:

Option 1 sets pumping volumes low enough for an NRD to remain within its share of the state's allowable depletions during all years. Also, surface water use would be curtailed if needed to ensure compliance during potential dry years. All groundwater users would be treated equally.

Option 2 curtails surface water use and groundwater pumping in a "10 percent 5-year rapid-response area."

It's defined as an area where pumping from a well for five years will deplete the river or a baseflow tributary by at least 10 percent of the amount pumped.

Option 3 would curtail groundwater pumping and surface water use in a smaller area by 1 percent per year.

MRNRD board member James Uerling also presented a proposal that would give Enders, Swanson, Hugh Butler and Harry Strunk reservoirs water-short triggers similar to those for Harlan County, bringing sub-basins up to compliance.

Uerling said today that options presented by the state unfairly puts the burden on compact compliance with those closest to the river.

"All people want to be treated fairly," he said.

Other presentations given at Tuesday's night meeting include one from Mike Clements, Lower NRD general manager, on water management practices and another from Middle NRD board member Don Nelson on rolling allocations for groundwater pumping.

Uerling said that the state would like the NRD boards to vote on the options presented by November so the plan could be implemented by December.

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