Landowners within the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) boundaries, had an opportunity to apply for new irrigated acres for 2018.
LENRD Assistant General Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “After much debate last fall, the board voted to take applications for standard variances district-wide. Applications for nearly 24,000 new irrigated acres were received during the sign-up period, which was open between November 15th and December 15, 2017.”
The board voted at their January meeting to approve up to 2,390 new acres in the Hydrologically Connected or 10/50 Area, and to approve up to 2,530 new acres in the Non-Hydrologically Connected or Non 10/50 Area under the district’s standard variance process.
Bruckner continued, “Staff will now go through the process of contacting the landowners with both approved and non-approved acres.” After the landowners have been properly notified, the approved list will be available to the public, sometime in February.
In other business, the Board approved an amendment to the LENRD Rules and Regulations for the Management of Groundwater, which will add a new Rule 18 – Transfers of Water Uses. The addition of this rule will allow the district to consider requests for the transfer of certified acres within the district. Bruckner said, “Numerous factors will be weighed when evaluating each request, but it will provide both landowners and the district with an additional tool for the management of water resources in the district.”
The board also brought discussion of the Drought Management Plan to a vote at their January meeting and approved adoption of the Drought Management Plan into the LENRD’s Groundwater Management Plan. Approval of this Plan will merely provide the district with a mechanism to define and categorize drought conditions within the district, and outlines some general response mechanisms that could be utilized in response to each designation. At the suggestion of the board, the Plan will also integrate real time monitoring well data and a November 1st date for the establishment of any subsequent groundwater controls (for irrigation purposes for the following growing season) as components of the plan. Most importantly, future effort will be required to develop implementation mechanisms that could be employed by the district to effectively protect groundwater supplies for all groundwater users, during a prolonged period of drought. LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, said, “This is a working document that will be utilized, if and when a drought situation occurs. It gives the district a place to start.”
In other action, the board approved the amended Recreation Area Rules and Regulations. One of the amendments kept the current policy in place which does not allow alcohol at the Recreation Areas owned by the LENRD, which includes Maskenthine Lake, near Stanton; Maple Creek Recreation Area, near Leigh; and the Willow Creek State Recreation Area, near Pierce.
The district is inviting the public to attend the Bazile Groundwater Management Area Winter Open House & Informational Meeting at the Osmond City Auditorium on Wednesday, February 7th. The Open House is from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Various topics of the day will include the role of the NRDs, health and drinking water, best management practices, as well as soil fertility and cover crop programs. Contact the LENRD for more information.
The next LENRD board meeting will be Thursday, February 22nd at 7:30 p.m. in the Lifelong Learning Center on the campus of Northeast Community College in Norfolk.