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Changes in NRD pooling rules being proposed PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 22 December 2011 20:43

Special meeting Jan. 9 to discuss changes

By Russ Pankonin

The Imperial Republican


Board members of the Upper Republican Natural Resources District (URNRD) will consider changes to pooling rules during a special meeting Monday, Jan. 9.

During their monthly meeting Dec. 15 in Imperial, the full board got their first look at the rule change proposed by the board’s groundwater committee.

As proposed, the rule would limit the amount of carryforward (unused allocation) that can be brought into a pooling contract.

The proposed rule reads as follows:

“Certified irrigated tracts added to an existing pooling contract shall be limited to three (3) years of annual allocation of unused allocation (carryforward).”

Board members spent nearly two hours discussing the merits of the new rule. Reaching no definitive conclusion, the board has scheduled a 9 a.m. special meeting Monday, Jan. 9 at the district office in Imperial to continue discussions.


Transfers limited to 39 inches

The intent of the new pooling rule targets bringing pooling rules more in line with transfer rules.

The current transfer rule allows the transfer of groundwater allocations within a six square-mile location from the tract where water is being transferred.

The transfer rule limits the amount of carryforward that can be transferred to three years of allocation. Presently, that totals 39 inches.

Groundwater Committee members noted that without the change, current pooling rules could be used as a way around the limit imposed by transfers.

One of the board’s concerns focuses on the pooling of tracts that would result in more pumping than is presently being done. That could occur if a tract with a large amount of carryforward was pooled with tracts that had little or no allocation remaining.

Board member Tom Terryberry said if this kind of pooling is allowed, it would likely result in more overall pumping. This would make it more difficult for the district to stay in compliance with its overall pumping allocation of 425,000 acre feet.

That would force the board to lower the annual allocation farmers receive on certified irrigated tracts, Terryberry warned. That annual allocation now stands at 13 inches.

Board Chair Terry Martin noted the board has spent a great deal of money to retire irrigated acres and implement an augmentation project to keep the district in compliance with the compact settlement.

He said the board must consider the taxpayer, who has helped fund these projects. Allowing more overall pumping puts an unfair burden on the taxpayer, he noted.

Board member Kerry Bernhardt said he doesn’t want to see the rule to limit the amount of carryforward when an operator purchases a tract of land. He said an operator should be allowed to bring all of the carryforward on the newly-purchased land into an existing pool of the operator.

But he doesn’t believe its right to allow an unlimited amount of carryforward to be pooled by two individuals who have no common interest other than the buying and selling of that carryforward.


What is a common interest?

Discussion followed on how to determine whether a common interest exists between operators.

Terryberry said the intent of the rule was to not allow pooling between two parties that don’t have some type of farming relationship.

The board’s counsel Joel Burke then cautioned that the board or variance committee would then have to determine the validity of each contract between farmers establishing some type of relationship. This could be cumbersome and inconsistent, opening the board to more challenges.

Board member Jeff Wallin asked why the board should care about who owns the tracts or whether there is any common interest as long as the overall pumping doesn’t increase.

He suggested that could make it easier to administer the rule.

Manager Jasper Fanning said it appeared more discussion was needed on the issue before forwarding a proposal to a public hearing.

As a result, the board set the special meeting for 9 a.m., Jan. 9. The regular meeting of the board will follow on Thursday, Jan. 12 at 1 p.m.

Before the rule can be enacted, a public hearing must first be held. Fanning anticipated this could happen in late January or early February.

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 December 2011 20:44