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Deadline for irrigation retirement program Friday PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 12 May 2011 20:43

By Russ Pankonin

The Imperial Republican

 

Irrigators wanting to retire irrigation on acres in Rapid Response Areas must do so by Friday, May 13.

The Upper Republican Natural Resources District (URNRD) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) have teamed up with the goal of retiring irrigation on at least 1,000 acres that adversely affect stream flow in the basin.

But the time to do so is quickly running down, with an application deadline of this Friday, May 13.

Irrigators can make application for the program at the NRCS office in Imperial.

The program can offer irrigators as much as $2,700 per acre to retire irrigation, depending on the stream flow depletion factor of the land.

Only the irrigation is retired, allowing the land owner to continue farming the land as dryland.

The RRA consists of land within a range of up to two miles from a stream, river or tributary in the basin.

This land typically has a higher stream flow depletion factor than land situated further from live streams and rivers.

 

More than 30 applications

Gary Lee, district conservation at the Imperial NRCS office, said they have already received more than 30 applications as of Tuesday.

Lee expected they would get some more apps as the deadline grew closer. He said there’s been a great deal of interest shown in the program.

Of the applications received, he said two-thirds came from Dundy County irrigators.

He said some farmers are still deciding whether it’s the best move, depending on how payments would be taxed.

At the URNRD’s regular meeting last Tuesday, Manager Jasper Fanning said his office has been approached about selling off carryforward inches remaining on the ground.

Fanning said that’s not allowed under the program, and would be detrimental to compliance efforts in the long term.

The goal of the program is to reduce the amount of water pumped through retirement.

Allowing further use of carryforward would be counter-productive to that effort.

As for compliance issues, Fanning said the state has met with the special master appointed in the new suit filed by Kansas.

While no timelines were set, the master said he wanted to resolve the issue in a short time frame.

Nebraska also filed a brief on accounting issues in the groundwater models, asking the master to address this as well.