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Upper Republican NRD seek funds for real-time monitoring of recorder wells PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Friday, 11 March 2016 18:45

By Russ Pankonin

The Wauneta Breeze

The Upper Republican Natural Resources District (URNRD) will seek grant funds to launch a pilot project on real-time monitoring of groundwater recorder wells in the district.


During their regular meeting Tuesday, March 1, board members authorized staff to apply for a $300,000 grant from the Bureau of Reclamation for the project.


Assistant Manager Nate Jenkins said the application deadline is April 11. He said it would be June or July before the NRD learns whether they have won the grant.


If funded, Jenkins said they would install real-time monitoring devices on the 11 groundwater recorder wells throughout the district.


These wells are used to measure the amount of groundwater levels before, during and after the pumping season.


In addition, the project would include real-time monitoring of the pumping on irrigation wells near the recorder wells.


He said real-time technology is already in use at the district’s augmentation site at Rock Creek and NCORPE’s site in Lincoln County.


The pilot project will also help determine if it would be beneficial and feasible to convert all flow meters in the district to real-time capability.


There are approximately 3,300 irrigation wells in the district. At a conversion cost of $400 per meter, that cost would total more than $1.3 million. There would be additional costs to set up the electronic transfer network, whether by radio, cellular or satellite.


Jenkins said, if feasible, they would seek additional grant funding to help cover the cost of the project.

Cost share on probes


Jenkins said the district plans to offer a cost-share program again this year for farmers wanting to install moisture probes in their fields.


The URNRD has offered a cost-share program for the probes ever since 2012. Since that time, Jenkins said moisture probes are in use on about 40,000 irrigated acres, or about 10 percent of the irrigated acres in the district.


Jenkins said the Nebraska Natural Resources Conservation Service has been awarded $1.6 million for conservation use in the Republican River Basin.


They plan to work with each of the NRDs in the basin on how to use the funds.


Jenkins said the plan in the URNRD is to use the money to help with the cost share on moisture probes.