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NRD has questions over signature

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

CURTIS, Nebraska -- The Middle Republican Natural Resources District tabled Geraldine Clark's request for a variance for a second time Tuesday night at their monthly meeting at the Curtis Memorial Community Center.

Clark's request was tabled a second time because the board is having the legality of the signature on her certification form checked by legal counsel. Clark's form was submitted and signed "Geraldine Clark by Anna Lucero."

The board is unsure whether the signature is legally binding since Clark, according to her, did not know nor consent to the representation. Clark was in Florida working on a business venture when certification was done in 2003.

Multiple board members asked Clark if she was all right with tabling the decision until the June MRNRD meeting to check on the legality of the signature. She responded with "as long as you get it done before I croak."

A decision is expected at the next meeting.

Resource Conservation and Development funds were zeroed out according to Jason Kennedy, of the Natural Resource Conservation Service Trenton Field Office. Former RC&D employee Roger Stockton is now working at the NRCS office in Beaver City, Nebraska.

Though funds for the RC&D have been zeroed out, funds for dam site 32a, on the Hayes and Hitchcock County line, have been appropriated. Dam site 80a, near Maywood, Nebraska, will also be able to go through its final inspections as funds were appropriated to finish the project.

Brad Edgerton, manager of the Frenchman Cambridge Irrigation District, gave a presentation on the issues of surface water versus ground water. He presented the possibility that through co-mingled acres, or acres that use both surface and ground water, the district may be able to save 700 acre feet of water per year.

Edgerton showed that 1000 acre feet of surface water used equated to about as much as 300 acre feet of ground water. This savings could help the district recoup acres through accounting in the compact compliance with Kansas. Currently, the MRNRD has about 12 percent co-mingled irrigated acres in its district. Further review by the board is necessary in order to confirm Edgerton's numbers.

The MRNRD board of directors is investigating the viability of buying the water rights from the shareholders of Riverside Irrigation Company. Roger Kolbet, President of the board of directors for Riverside Irrigation Company, answered questions from the MRNRD board as it considers buying the surface water rights and filing an easement on the ground water rights. The board voted to follow a committee's recommendations. The committee directed Kolbet to talk with his constituents about the purchase.

James Uerling responded to a letter to the board regarding supplemental wells, or wells used as a non-primary source of water. Uerling spoke about the need for the MRNRD to bring Colorado into compliance with compact which he says, "has been out of compliance for eight or nine years and is the reason why supplemental wells are now being used as primary means of irrigation which in turn hurts the compact compliance accounting for the district. The streamflow doesn't count against consumptive use and now the water which should be coming from Colorado isn't and those acres are pumping ground water." He also stated that the water should therefor be charged to another district other than the MRNRD.

Dan Smith, MRNRD manager, pointed out, "the district was still responsible for 30 percent of whatever [water] comes in the district and that charging Colorado for the water doesn't help the district because the percentage of water rights would effectively change for the MRNRD, thereby possibly lowering the MRNRDs allotment."

The Ground Water Committee proposed making changes to the transfer of acres, conservation assessment and change the structure of appendix 1. The GWC proposed "gradual reduction in allocations for normal years and sets a six inch allocation for compact call years, but now allows for the allocation to increase as the percentage of compliance with the MRNRD IMP increases."

They also proposed that water allocations be set each year with a rolling allocation was still recommended but with a three or four year cap on unused allocations. This would take effect beginning in 2013, allowing the current system of 60 inches over five years to end.

There had been a meeting scheduled between the three Republican Resource Districts, but after asking for the meeting and requesting the Department of Natural Resources set it up, the Lower Republican Natural Resources backed out of the meeting. The meeting was to address the percentage of water allowed by each of the three districts. During the April MRNRD meeting, it was announced that the MRNRD may be entitled to a higher percentage of water than it is currently receiving.


In other items on the agenda for the meeting:

* Another 90.3 acres were unanimously approved for permanent retirement. The cost of retiring the acres is less than $140,000.

* The board voted unanimously to award Kirt and Cynthia Ross the Outstanding Tree Planter award for 2011 and Land a Life Farms the Conservation Award for 2011.

* Marlys Brenning, of Culbertson, Nebraska, was the only scholarship applicant for summer camp scholarships and the board voted unanimously to award her a $180 scholarship.

* The legal representation list was narrowed from five attorneys to two attorneys, Dave Jarecke of Lincoln and Daniel Lindstrom of Kearney. The two attorneys will be interviewed by the MRNRD executive committee. The executive committee will bring its recommendation to the board at the June meeting.

* The board unanimously approved to sponsor the West Central Research and Extension Center Water and Crop Field Day for $125. The field day will take place on June 30 in Brule, Nebraska.

* According to Brad Edgerton, Hugh Butler Lake could begin advertising bids for reconstruction of the dam in September. The time line will be less than two years with a focus to possibly finish in as little as one year.

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