Letter to the Editor

NRD working to solve problems

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dear Editor,

Many news articles and opinions have been circulating in our local media and coffee groups about the recently adopted Integrated Management Plan approved by the Middle Republican NRD. I cautiously supported this IMP and voted to approve it after the Board of Directors made some alterations from the original plan.

This IMP has caused some division among patrons in the district due to the proposed "Rapid Response Shutdown Area." I am a farmer and 85 percent of my irrigated acres reside in the Rapid Response Area and are subject to a shutdown if a compact call year is called and nothing is done to offset it.

It would be easy for me to disregard the plan and blame the shortfalls of water on someone else, but we would still have the same problems and a new one brewing. One of the changes made to the IMP was adding language to the Rapid Response Shutdown Area referencing that shutdowns and curtailment were NOT restricted to the Rapid Response area and that the NRD is not limited to only using this shutdown as a solution.

This does not prevent the Rapid Response Shutdown, but this language complements a solution in making sure that everyone in the basin is working together to share the burden of balancing water shortfalls while not relying on sacrificing the Rapid Response Area as the sole solution.

The Middle Republican NRD is developing new rules and regulations to complement the newly adopted IMP.

These new rules will be designed to allocate water in an equitable manner to all groundwater irrigators within the basin so the Rapid Response Shutdown is a last resort. I, along with other Board Members, am pushing a "Rolling Allocation" concept to be incorporated in our Rules and Regulations.

This Rolling Average will allow irrigators to decide how to manage their water allotment by receiving a yearly allocation and be able to use water that they saved or "banked" for the four years prior.

Currently, irrigators are allowed a maximum allocation over a 5 year period of time.

The main difference between the current allocation system and the rolling average concept is the current system allows the irrigator to borrow water from the future to supplement the present, the rolling allocation gives the farmer an annual allocation and allows the farmer to withdraw water that was saved in the past.

The annual allocation would be based on current and past uses of water supplies. The more water available in the system the higher the allocation, less water available results in lower allocations. These allocations would be distributed equally among all irrigators in the District.

The NRD would also continue offering acreage buyouts (such as EQIP, AWEP, and CREP), continue work on augmentation projects, and acquire surface water and groundwater leases to make sure the allocations can remain economically viable in times of fluctuating water supplies.

Passing the Integrated Management Plan gives the NRD the tools needed to meet the water challenges faced by the District head on. The proposed Rules and Regulations will be discussed by the board during future meetings (second Tuesday of each month), it is important that stakeholders in the basin stay informed and bring their input to the board.

Daniel L. Nelsen,

Director, Middle

Republican NRD

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