Spring Water Levels Increase Throughout Central Platte NRD
(GRAND ISLAND, NE) Luke Zakrzewski, GIS image analyst for the Central Platte Natural Resources District, reported at the June board of directors meeting on Thursday that the average spring 2019 groundwater levels across the District increased 2.08 feet since 1982. These levels are averaged from the 437 wells that NRD staff read this year from mid-April to mid-June. Zakrzewski said all 24 GWMAs saw increases because of timely rains during the 2018 irrigation season that continued throughout the fall, and 200 to 300 percent above normal precipitation this spring.
A comparison of the 1982 levels were established as the standard for the NRD’s Groundwater Management Plan with maximum acceptable declines and a margin of safety calculated for each of the District’s 24 Ground Water Management Areas (GWMA).
Four of the 24 GWMAs are currently in the 25 percent decline suspension that does not allow transfers of irrigated acres into the areas or supplemental wells. The NRD’s rules and regulations require the areas to stay in suspension for five years. Two of the four areas in suspension are above the 25 percent decline for the second consecutive year, while the remaining two areas are showing an increase for their first year. If the water table would fall to 50 percent of the maximum decline, Phase II would go into effect requiring mandatory reductions in irrigated acres.
Central Platte NRD serves 11 counties including all of Dawson and parts of Frontier, Custer Buffalo, Hall, Howard, Nance, Merrick, Hamilton, Platte and Polk. Interactive maps are available at cpnrd.gisworkshop.com.
OTHER ACTION/AGENDA ITEMS
-Budget The board approved the 2020 Fiscal budget of expenditures for the purpose of holding a public hearing. The hearing will be held at 1:45 p.m. on July 25, 2019, prior to the July board of directors meeting. Lyndon Vogt, general manager, reported that the tax request for the preliminary budget is estimated at $4.2 million; which is down $306,000 compared to last year.
-Dams Repair Contract The Board approved a contract with JEO Consulting in the amount of $47,150 to design and oversee construction to repair and/or remove dams on Box Elder, Clear Creek, and Jones Creek within the District. Box Elder 5A dam in Buffalo County needs channel improvements and dredging of sediment from the pool area. Clear Creek 5 dam in Polk County requires dredging and repair/modification to the drawdown pipe. Jones 1A dam, also in Polk County, needs a riser and principal spillway replacement or slipline. Construction will begin this fall and is expected to be completed in the spring of 2020. It was reported that these three dams need the most repair of the 40 dams that the NRD owns through conservation easements.
-Cease & Desist The board approved issuing a Cease and Desist Order to Harriett Driscoll, landowner in Dawson County.
-Platte River Recovery Implementation Program Mark Czaplewski, biologist, gave an update on the Program’s Governance Committee June meeting. The Governance Committee was briefed on Congressional work to extend the first increment to 2032. Senate bill 990 and House bill 3237 were introduced and a hearing was held on the Senate bill. There is broad regional support for the bills including co-sponsorship of the Senate bill by Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer. All three Nebraska Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors and Central Platte NRD submitted a letter of support for the extension. Another item of interest was the approval of a NPPD surface water exchange agreement patterned after the agreement CPNRD worked out with Central NPP&ID.
-Tree/Weed Barrier Sales Kelly Cole, programs coordinator, reported that the NRD sold 29,775 tree seedlings and 7.84 miles of weed barrier through the Conservation Tree Program in 2019. The NRD has sold 3,759,993 trees since 1973 and 591.37 miles of weed barrier since 1991.
-Managers Report Lyndon Vogt, general manager, reported the following:
*Public Information Meeting & Public Hearings will be held starting at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, July 15th for
the CPNRD/NeDNR Integrated Management Plan and the Upper Platte River Basin-Wide Plan.
*The Nebraska Association of Resources Districts hosted a tour for the National Association of
Conservation Districts with participants from five states. Lyndon Vogt gave a tour of the NRD’s
irrigation canals and David Carr showed participants a prescribed burn site in Dawson County.
*Two proposals have been received for the Ground Water Management Plan update. The proposals will
be reviewed at the July board meeting.
*A hearing will be held on the Platte/Republican diversion on June 28th in Lincoln.
*The NRD’s Flood Control Stroll in Grand Island was very successful. Over 70 people participated in the
stroll and the NRD received numerous positive comments from the public on the Upper Prairie Silver
Moores Flood Risk Reduction Project.
-Natural Resources Conservation Service Joe Krolikowski, District liaison, reported that due to the March 2019 storms and severe flooding events, Nebraska NRCS requested a national waiver on completing compliance reviews in disaster-affected counties on the conversion of wetlands and to reduce soil erosion on Highly Erodible Land (HEL). That request was granted on April 10, 2019, for all counties within the FEMA Disaster Declaration areas, including all the counties in the CPNRD (Frontier, Custer, Dawson, Buffalo, Hall, Howard, Merrick, Nance, Polk, and Platte) except for Hamilton County. Waivers for the disaster-affected counties will allow USDA participants the time needed to recover from the impact of the unusual weather events and allow field office staff more time to assist them.
-Cost-Share Applications were approved in the amount of $12,858.61 through the Nebraska Soil and Water Conservation and the Central Platte NRD cost-share programs for grassland conservation, grazing deferment, and well decommissioning.