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NRD approves meetings on DNR's short year administration avoidance strategies

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

CURTIS -- The Middle Republican Natural Resources District Board of Directors met November 10 at the Curtis Memorial Community Center to discuss, among many other items of official business, the proposals presented last month that address the State's ability to stay in compliance with the Republican River Compact, in particular, the three option proposal presented by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Last month, the board was presented with the following options: Reduced allocations for all irrigators in the District to 4.8 inches; curtailment of surface water use and groundwater pumping in a 10% - 5 year rapid response area where pumping of a well for five years will deplete the river by at least 10% of the amount pumped over a five year period;

Similar to the previous option but differs in that it uses a smaller 2 year and 10% rapid response area in which pumping would be curtailed.

Other "plans" presented by other individuals, Districts, and coalitions do not adequately address the water short year administration. These plans shift the burden to different geographic users. "Funding seems to be the only additional option that comes into serious consideration", said General Manager Dan Smith, "I think it is safe to say with the current budget problems of the state, there will be no state funding,," continued Smith. "The occupation tax allows us to implement the projects we need and stay within the confines of our current Integrated Management Plan."

Smith recommended further discussions of the options and impacts thereof before the December meeting. Smith is working with the DNR to set-up additional public meetings on Nov 17th in McCook and Curtis. The Board voted to approve the meetings.

The DNR public meeting dates and times are November 17 at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. in the McCook City Auditorium and at 7:00 PM in Curtis at the Curtis Memorial Community Center. While these meetings will be noticed as special board meetings they are designed to be purely informational and no action is planned by the Board of Directors. These meetings are all structured the same and the two meetings in McCook will be the same presentation.

The Republican River Irrigation Districts, submitted a resolution pertaining to the Republican River Compact compliance. No action was taken regarding this resolution.

During the public hearing portion of the meeting, the board heard a variance request from George Seward of Yuma, CO. Seward requested three irrigation well transfers in Hayes Co in order to use his water more efficiently on his farms. The board approved his requests.

In other matters, staff reported that the water quality testing for 85 stations (Wells) within the District's Groundwater Management Area has been completed. Sixty five of the stations occur inside the original Special Protection Area created about 10 years ago to address the initial water quality concerns in the area. Additional wells have been selected throughout the District to expand the monitoring profile. Nitrate levels ranged between .1ppm and 26.1 ppm with an average of 7.28 ppm. Only 3 wells measured over 19 ppm.

In March, the board awarded a District Community Grant to the Norris Institute for the development of a Prairie Arboretum in McCook. The grant helped pay for the use of goats to remove invasive weeds, invasive plants, and undesirable woody vegetation. The Norris Institute has removed about 33% of the trees that they wish to remove and plan to continue with tree removal this winter followed up by desirable native plantings in the Spring. The board voted this evening to award the check to the Norris Institute for work done on the project.

Assistant Manager Robert Merrigan reported that trees and shrubs have been ordered from the Nebraska State Tree Nursery in Halsey and the District is ready to receive orders for conservation tree and shrub material from District land owners. However, he adds, "during a tour of the nursery last week, I learned that the cedars and junipers took a hard hit from winter kill last year, creating a shortage for those two species this year. Other tree and shrub species looked real good," he reassured.

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