I wanted to offer my views on the "problems" identified in campaign ads by Citizens United For Sensible Water Solutions on behalf of four candidates for the Middle Republican Natural Resources District Boardof Directors.
The ad first states the integrated management plan adopted by the Middle Republican Board of Directors unfairly penalizes irrigators along the river and tributaries, presumably because the plan couldshut down these irrigators, accounting for 12 percent of the groundwater irrigated acres in the district or 20 percent of the total irrigated acres. The ad also states shutting down irrigators along the river (estimates suggest shutdowns could occur once every three years) would cost this area millions of dollars in lost cropproduction.
Instead, the ad states, Citizens United For Sensible Water Solutions and the candidates it backs argue for the equal treatment of all users of water. This would seem to suggest an equal allocation on allirrigated acres. Treating everyone equally sounds good on the surface, but let's dig deeper.
Current irrigation allocations in the district are 12 inches annually. The state has estimated treating groundwater irrigators equally in order to achieve compliance with the Republican River Compact would result in an allocation of 4.8 inches annually, a reduction of 60 percent. So, which option would cost this area more in dollars of lost crop production -- the option that reduces available irrigation water by 60 percent each and every year? Or the option which reduces irrigated acres 12 percent maybe once every three years? The answer is clear.
Total irrigated acres in the Middle Republican Natural Resources District amount to 310,000 acres. The number of acres along the river and tributaries that would be affected by the new integrated management plan amounts to 38,000. Reducing allocations to 4.8 inches each year would result in anannual reduction of over 2 million acre inches of water. This amount of water would be lost each yearto save an estimated 456,000 inches every third year. So Citizens United For Sensible Water Solutions is asking the area to give away 2 million inches of water each year in order to save 456,000 inches everythird year.
The plan adopted by the Middle Republican Board of Directors, while not perfect, seeks to minimize theeconomic impact of compliance with the Republican River Compact. It had to choose between threeoptions presented by the state to satisfy the courts and stay in compliance. While including the optionto shut down irrigated acres to meet the state's need for compact compliance, the NRD never intends to enact this provision. The plan it chose seeks to avoid shutdowns by taking steps such as surface waterleases, augmentation and vegetation management.
If that is not enough, and irrigators must be shutdown, the irrigators will be fairly compensated through the use of the occupation tax.