Letter to the Editor

Meter accuracy questioned

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dear Editor,

There are no state laws requiring or mandating accuracy for variations or change of flow of water, type or size of water meter impellers.

The current production of micrometer meters has close to a full impeller in accordance with the pipe size, with a stamped certification stating the pipe size and wall thickness, built as one unit that is gear-driven that can be sealed to insure no tampering are the type of meters that are accurate over a range of flow.

I strongly believe the older Micrometer meters with a small 4-inch propeller that were initially installed in the URNRD and also some in the MRNRD are inaccurate except at the specific gallons per minute they are calibrated for. I have no way of proving it, but I would like to know if the theory can be proven wrong. My theory is as following:

I sold irrigation equipment through my company, called Midway Irrigation Inc. for more than 30 years. I acquired two of the older Micrometer meters at an irrigation business selling out. Around the year 1998, I installed one in a pump with an 8-inch discharge pipe off of the irrigation canal because kids were tampering with the canal headgates that were next to a road and the ditch rider had to chain the headgates.

Before installing it, I sent the meter to micrometer to have it calibrated at 1,250 gallons per minute or 21⁄2 second foot. We used it for a period of time pumping that amount of water. Later in the season, I called the irrigation ditch rider and asked if I could shut it down to 900 GPM or 11⁄2 second foot, of which he said yes. I set it at that amount by restricting the amount flow with a value in the discharge pipe after the meter.

A few hours later, the ditch rider called and said I had not reduced the flow nearly enough. Then we went back to the head gate measurements as the meter was only accurate at 1,250 Gallon per minute or 21⁄2 second foot. I've also had some farmers in the URNRD tell me of that being the case with their meters on their wells or other wells they know of.

In 1995, I purchased a pivot from a dealer in Imperial. At that time, the Imperial pivot dealers were selling a lot of pivots. I also saw from Enders to Imperial there were new pivots going on land that had not been irrigated.

This is speculation, but these were evidently the satellite pivots that are now called irrigated acres and not certified irrigated acres. The URNRD in their rules and regulations have both certified irrigation acres and irrigated acres allotment formerly called satellite pivots.

1.09 Certified Irrigated Acre shall mean any acre of ground upon which ground water is being applied for irrigation purposes, regardless of the source of the ground water, that has an allocation granted or that was certified as such by the Board on or before the 31 st day of March, 1997. (See also Irrigated Acre)

1. 10 Certified Irrigated Tract shall mean an irrigated tract, not exceeding six hundred and forty (640) contiguous acres, consisting of certified irrigated acres.(See also Irrigated Tract)

1.27 Irrigated Acre shall mean any acre with a demonstrable or proven history of having been irrigated on or before May 8, 2003.

A lot of the initial irrigation in the URNRD was with water drives and open discharge with capacity from 1650 GPM to over 2,200 GPM. By going to a lower capacity pivot in the 700 to 900 GPM range could well be why there are landowners with large carry overs. About five years ago, I figured out that might be why the URNRD has some irrigators with enough carryover water to be able to add irrigated acres to their certified acres and its irrigation well. I called micrometer and ask if they would check the calibration on the meter and they said they would. When I was ready to ship them, I called and told them to check the calibration starting at 1,500 GPM and every 100 gallons less down to 500 gallons.

They said they wouldn't do that and would only do one specific setting for that meter and what it was calibrated for. I have tried to get this done elsewhere and nobody will do it, some stating because of possible liability as a reason. I even tried the Bureau of Reclamation and they refused. I would still like to have the two meters tested at the various flows if anyone knows of a legitimate firm, place, or business that will test the meters and, give the certified results in writing.

Otherwise I feel this could be a major cause why the river flow dried up so quick after 1998. In a study done in 1995 by the U. S. Geological Survey 95-4014 it looks like the declines are way over what was projected for 2030. If I'm proven wrong, I will both apologize and write a retraction.

The Bureau no longer controls the waters of the Republican River Basin; the NRDs under the state Legislature, and DNR now control the level of our lakes, and they will keep them at the conservation pool until the next series of abnormal rainfall events occur. If and when we receive a single big runoff rain, they will probably shut off the Rock Creek pumps to save pumping costs and keep bypassing inflows. The same will happen on the Medicine Creek project if it goes forward.

I wouldn't be surprised that if or when the 2012 LTNL Conservation and Survey Division ground water level changes come out, that there will be an extreme decline in the aquifer, in the over developed areas of the URNRD and the MRNRD after last summer's dry spell, especially in the western areas where most of the transfers are going to or already declining fast.

If this continues, Nebraska will be going the same path as Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas when they lost a majority of their irrigation in the '80s. I remember in the later part of the '70s. going from Scott City, Kansas, to Liberal, Kansas, and through Hoxie to 1-70, all the irrigation on almost every quarter and the waste of water. Now there is very little irrigation, as the aquifer has been depleted, in a very short time. Once it really started declining, it does so at an ever increasing rate. In Kansas the overlying landowner owns the water. In Nebraska the water is supposed to be controlled with the statute, "Every landowner shall be entitled to a reasonable and beneficial use of the ground water underlying his or her land subject to the provisions of Chapter 46,article 6, and the Nebraska Ground Water Management and Protection Act and the correlative rights of other landowners when the ground water supply is insufficient to meet the reasonable needs of all users."

In Nebraska, water is controlled by the NRDs under the Legislature. Because of over-pumping the aquifer, a good share of the state is having water shortages. Pumping out the aquifer more to meet those shortages is like pouring gas on a fire you're trying to put out. Why isn't the Legislature protecting all the irrigators, water users and citizens of Nebraska?

Claude L Cappel,

McCook, Nebraska

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: