Second Groundwater Exchange held in 2016
The Central Platte Natural Resources District’s (CPNRD) second Groundwater Exchange began on October 3rd. The CPNRD board of directors approved expanding the Groundwater Exchange to include the Loup Basin within the District and to add definition of terms to their Rules and Regulations at their September board meeting.
Plan With Changes
The Groundwater Exchange pre-approval process for buyers and sellers to meet with CPNRD staff took place through November 23, so that producers had time to plan for spring planting. During the pre-approval process, staff verifies that all participants are in compliance with the NRD’s Rules and Regulations, document whether the participant is acting as a buyer or seller, the location and amount of water use, and whether the buyers want to purchase water for irrigation or for streamflow. Buyers and sellers go online to the CPNRD Exchange website with the personal ID that staff has provided to them. Sellers will enter the amount that they would like to receive for their water use, and buyers will enter how much they are willing to pay.
The online bid window for those pre-approved was open from December 1- December 9, 2016. The second year of the Exchange had 25 sellers and five buyers submitting bids to lease groundwater for the 2017 irrigation season. Half of the sellers did receive bids that matched with a buyer. Bids made for transactions along the Platte River west of Elm Creek, NE ranged from $8.14 to $94.21 per acre; while bids east of Elm Creek ranged from $30.12 to $99.88 per acre. Bids within the Loup Basin influence of the District ranged from $48.84 to $121.07 acre.
The Central Platte Natural Resources District broke new ground in 2016 by implementing the Groundwater Exchange Program. The concept of the 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.
The board voted to develop a Groundwater Exchange Program at their September 2015 meeting. The Nebraska Department of Natural Resources and a consultant helped CPNRD develop a groundwater algorithm that will select the best matches based on information that each seller and buyer enters – such as the price, the location of water and depletion to the river. The program will then generate a report of all the matched exchanges for the CPNRD.
The Groundwater Exchange Rules and Regulations will be included in CPNRD’s Rules & Regulations for Groundwater Use in Fully and Over Appropriated Areas. The rules describe where the temporary exchanges will be allowed, including limitations on water uses in the over-appropriated area of the District; pre-approval process, open bid process, exchange notification, etc.