Landowners in three river basins in the Lower Loup Natural Resources District (LLNRD) may apply for new groundwater irrigated acres for 2020. The Lower Loup NRD Board of Directors approved the new irrigation at its meeting June 27th.
In the North Loup Basin, 1,250 irrigated acres will be granted; in the Middle Loup Basin, 500 acres will be offered; and in the Plum Creek, Beaver Creek and lower portion of the Loup Basins, 750 new irrigated acres will be available.
NRD General Manager Russell Callan said that the new irrigation development was approved after a review of the available water in the NRD. He said that studies still showed a “surplus” in the water budget created for the approved sub-basins of the Loup River Basin. Water quality was also a consideration.
Applications for new irrigation will be accepted Sept. 1-20, 2019 only. A non-refundable fee of $500 will be required with each application and only one application would be allowed per field. LLNRD Assistant Manager Tylr Naprstek said that application forms for new irrigated acres are available to potential applicants online as well as at NRCS offices in the district, and at the NRD Headquarters office, 2620 Airport Drive, in Ord. Landowners will be notified of their application’s score and overall outcome by December 1st.
The application form requires information on the landowner and/or their contact person, field description and FSA aerial photo clearly depicting the field, number of acres of new irrigation requested, and application fee.
Counties where acres will be allocated include portions of Boone, Custer, Garfield, Howard, Loup, Nance, Platte, Sherman, Rock, Valley, and Wheeler. New irrigation allocation is not allowed for areas south of the Middle Loup and Loup River as well as in the Cedar River Basin , the area east of Columbus, and the South Loup River basin due to negative changes to the groundwater and surface water supplies.
New surface water irrigation may also result following the approval of new groundwater acres. Callan said that under the new Integrated Management Plan developed by the LLNRD and the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (DNR), one surface water acre of new irrigation could also be developed for every three new groundwater irrigated acres.
Naprstek said that, as in the past, applications for new irrigation will be ranked using criteria approved by the NRD board when irrigated acres were previously granted. Criteria includes stream depletion factors, status of groundwater and surface water, number of acres being developed, and soil classification. No new irrigated acres will be granted in a community’s wellhead protection area.