IMPERIAL, Nebraska -- The Upper Republican Natural Resources District has imposed tough penalties on irrigators the District found to be in violation of the URNRD's rules and regulations.
The URNRD board took action at its meeting Tuesday.
"A recent investigation, conducted in cooperation with other districts, found that in some instances the flowmeters used to measure water use by the district had been bypassed with underground piping, either currently or at some point in time, so that part of the water pumped would not be measured," said Jasper Fanning, General Manager of the URNRD.
"Violators had creatively and deceptively manufactured bypass piping that had the appearance of common surge tanks used on many irrigation wells," Fanning said.
The owners of the properties responsible for the acts resulting in violations of the district's rules were sanctioned with the permanent loss of the right to irrigate 1,476.4 acres and a temporary loss of the right to irrigate an additional 779.4 acres for 10 years.
Earlier, they were named as Bruce Kramer, Jack Bond, Randall Bond, Kent Crawford and the Harry and Violet Stromberger Trust.
The district also imposed sanctions revoking part of the allocation on 960.7 acres for the violations. The sanctions imposed were severe in accordance with the seriousness and extent of the violations. The loss of irrigated value due to the sanctions was estimated to be in excess of $3 million.
"In these times, with all of the interstate water issues and with the stringent allocations imposed on all irrigators, deliberate acts such as these shall have no tolerance," Fanning said.
The URNRDs internal processes and checks on water use had caught the discrepancies between reported use and actual use, and the NRD had used other methods to estimate water use based on power records.
The primary reasons the violations were not detected sooner were because the URNRD had to excavate to find the underground piping and because of the deceptive design.
Other rules violations were also discovered during the investigation, including the failure to comply with conditions of well permits issued by the district.