Certification of Irrigated Acres
All irrigated acres are certified, including variances and water bank transactions. In April 2006, the NRD began the process of certifying irrigated acres by mailing out packets to landowners who live in Custer, Dawson & Frontier counties. To ensure accounting of irrigated acres was accurate, landowners were provided with aerial maps and the number of acres the NRD had on record as irrigated that was taken from infrared imagery. If a landowner disagreed with the number of acres provided, they were required to show CPNRD proof of their claims by obtaining records from their local FSA office; including an aerial photo and a printout of their irrigated land. Landowners then made an appointment with the NRD staff on location.
Most of the changes made were less than 10 acres while about 1/3 of the fields that the NRD determined as irrigated needed no changes at all. In January 2007, the NRD launched the first irrigation certification website in the state, developed by GIS Workshop of Lincoln. It allows public access to scanned documents that show proof of the number of irrigated acres fo r all landowners in the District, infrared imagery taken by CPNRD and all registered wells.
Users may search information for specific parcels of land by using the clickable map interface or by searching the site by landowner or tenant name, legal description or field ID number. The site also allows landowners to view and print aerial photos taken by the District to show how their land has developed since 2003 and view any improvements that have been made. The NRD’s cost was $5,000 to build the website and $1,500 per year to update and maintain it. The board set a deadline of December 31, 2014 to certify irrigated acres.
If you are planning changes this irrigation season, it is important to check with NRD staff before doing any development work that concerns newly irrigated acres. Following are just some of the limitations:
* Moving water more than 1 mile west
* Developing significantly sloped ground
* Vegetation restrictions on water moved from sub-irrigated areas of the district
* No transfers into the over-appropriated areas of our district
* No transfers into declining Ground Water Management Areas (GWMAs)
Individuals looking to purchase new land should also check the certified irrigated acres of a property before making any buying decisions. CPNRD’s mapping website that allows individuals to check certified irrigated acres. In 2006, Nebraska’s Department of Natural Resources declared the entire Central Platte NRD as “fully appropriated” and declared a “stay on new irrigated acres” within the NRD. Due to this stay, any land that is not certified as irrigated with the NRD cannot be irrigated, unless the newly irrigated area is “offset” by applying for and completing a transfer request with CPNRD, prior to new acres being irrigated. Any transfers must be completed before irrigating.
Producers who fail to obtain an approved transfer from the NRD are subject to penalties. First offense requires the producer/tenant to offset the newly developed acres. The second and third offenses result in (2) two times and (4) four times the acres, respectfully, required to be offset. A third offense would also be unable to transfer acres for a period of three years.
CPNRD’s Rules & Regulations allow producers to continue to develop and expand their operation, while staying in compliance with the law. To date, more than 1,000 water transfers have been approved in the Central Platte Natural Resources District. These transfers allow producers to convert to center pivot irrigation, expand their irrigated base, and even sell the water rights off of a property that they own. If you have a project in mind that makes changes to the way you currently irrigate, call and set up an appointment (308) 385-6282 to begin the transfer process.
The Rules and Regulations for the Groundwater Exchange Program were approved in February 2016. CPNRD launched the debut of the Groundwater Exchange pilot program in March 2016. The concept of the Groundwater Exchange Program is to allow producers to buy or sell water, on a temporary leasing basis, for the upcoming irrigation season. A seller can be anyone with a certified groundwater use on irrigated acres such as pivot corners, irregularly-shaped fields or even full sections. A buyer could be anyone looking to improve or add to their currently certified groundwater use or looking to increase streamflow.
The Groundwater Exchange is the first of its kind to allow temporary leasing of groundwater. CPNRD’s Rules and Regulations regarding the transfers of groundwater irrigated acres are built into the computer program. Bids are based on consumptive use and streamflow depletion to the Platte River. Pre-approved buyers and sellers went online from March 21 to March 25 to place their asking price to temporarily lease their water or place bids to buy water for the 2016 growing season. Both buyers and sellers were pre-approved by making an appointment with CPNRD staff, in which interested participants had two weeks (Feb. 29-March 11) to be pre-approved. During the pre-approval visit, staff verified the water rights to be sold or bought and provide the buyers and sellers an identification number to be used during the bidding process. For purposes of the Groundwater Exchange, a ‘water right’ is the certified groundwater use on irrigated acres. CPNRD has approved permanent water transfers of ground-water for over 10 years.
The board approved the first transactions of the Groundwater Exchange pilot program on April 1, 2016. Sellers placed 30 locations online for leasing, with six buyers placing bids- three for irrigation and three for streamflow rights. The computer program matched the three irrigation bids with sellers in the eastern area of the District. In June 2016, the board approved a contract with National Economic Research Associates (NERA) and the NDNR in the amount of $105,000 to design and manage a second Groundwater Exchange. The second exchange is expected to be held October-December 2016 and will include the area of the Loup Basin influence. The NDNR and CPNRD will each share 50 percent of the cost. Program information is located at: www.market4water.com.
For additional developing information on the Groundwater Exchange Program, contact general manager Lyndon Vogt.