New Irrigated Acres Sign-Up Period October 1 – October 31, 2021

NORFOLK – Signup for new irrigated acres is underway as the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) continues to invest resources to study the geology, storage capacity, quality and connection of groundwater to surface water to achieve its management goals.

According to a release from LENRD, one of the primary responsibilities of Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) is to manage groundwater to protect both its quality and quantity for all Nebraskans.

At their September meeting, the LENRD Board of Directors approved a sign-up period for Standard Variances, for new irrigated acres between October 1 and October 31, 2021.

Some discussion was held about postponing the signup until the completion of the LENRD’s Hydrogeologic Groundwater Model in 2022. In the end, the board decided to move ahead with this year’s sign-up.  When the model is completed, it will allow the board and staff to complete simulations that will help illustrate the changes in groundwater and surface water systems.

The LENRD board approved up to 295.00-acre feet of new stream water depletions for new groundwater irrigation development in the Hydrologically Connected Area in the LENRD, and up to 2,500 acres of new groundwater irrigation development in the Non-Hydrologically Connected Area.

LENRD officials stated that a minimum soil score of 85 must be met in the soil conservation category for any standard variance application to be considered for approval, regardless of the total score. Geographic portions of the district that are eligible to be considered for standard variances will remain the same as the 2020 classification map.

Applications and a map of the eligible locations are available at the LENRD office in Norfolk and on the district’s website.  Excluded from consideration for this sign-up period will be any parcel of land located in any Quantity Management Subarea or Phase 3 Area.

Also at the meeting, the board engaged in further discussion on the proposed Phase 2 groundwater management area in parts of Cuming, Colfax and Dodge counties. The board is seeking more information from vadose zone and isotope analysis in that area and have postponed their decision until a later date.

The board also accepted the scope of work and Flow Meter Maintenance Agreement from Derek and Austin Becker which outlines the requirements for the completion of flow meter preventative maintenance services within the LENRD.

The LENRD board & staff meet each month to develop and implement management plans to protect their natural resources for the future.  The next LENRD board meeting will be Thursday, October 28 at the LENRD office in Norfolk at 7:30 p.m. and on Facebook Live.  Stay connected with the LENRD by subscribing to their monthly emails.