November 5, 2013
Info at 1:30, Hearing at 2:00
York City Auditorium
Click HERE to read the
public hearing notice.
Farmers in the Upper Big Blue NRD may have a limit on irrigation water in the next few years if groundwater levels continue to drop.
With around 12,000 irrigation wells in their district, Water Department Manager Rod DeBuhr says steadily declining groundwater supplies have been a concern for decades.
Levels could be low enough next spring to trigger allocation rules.
DeBuhr says right now they're proposing 45 inches of water to be used over five years. He says that's an average of 9 inches per year, but the total can be used flexibly. He says it's more than the just under 7 inches producers have been averaging over the last six years, including the major drought year of 2012.
"We're confident that with good management most producers shouldn't have any trouble staying within that allocation, but it should result in reducing the overall water use requirement," says DeBuhr.
Wells that pump 50 gallons or more would have to have a meter installed on them if they don't already, and since it would be mandatory, DeBuhr says cost-sharing through UBBNRD would not be available.
"There would also be allocation for other types of uses - municipalities would receive an allocation based on their population plus land area within the city limits, and industrial users would also receive an allocation based on their historic use," says DeBuhr.
The Upper Big Blue will hold a public hearing on November 5 at the York City Auditorium. An informational meeting starts at 1:30, and the public can make comments starting at 2:00. Officials say they'll also be taking written comment after the hearing.
"When we reach this level where the allocation trigger is set we begin to see some domestic well problems, reduced capacity in some irrigation wells, and those types of problems," says DeBuhr. "We believe that if we allow it to continue to decline, those problems would only get worse."