Wednesday, June 20, 2018
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Dawson County shows best, worst of water level changes in NRD

Several areas within the Central Platte Natural Resources District continued to show signs of drought when spring water levels were taken in April and May, reported Shane Max, resources conservationist, at the NRD’s board of directors meeting on July 24.

Of the 24 groundwater management areas (GMAs) in the district, 18 areas showed some signs of drought since 1982. The largest increase in groundwater levels was in Dawson and Frontier counties with 8.79 feet above 1982 levels.

The largest deficit was in northern Dawson, Buffalo and Hall counties at -10.44 feet below 1982 levels.

The measurements were taken prior to the precipitation received in June and July. Max reported that 11 of the 24 GMAs have reached 25% of the maximum allowable decline established by the CPNRD, and will no longer be allowed to transfer new uses or drill supplemental wells in those areas until the average water level is less than 25% of the allowable decline for two consecutive years. (Rule 7. Transfers, Rules & Regulations for Groundwater Use in Fully & Over Appropriated Areas.) A map of the comparisons is available on the CPNRD website at:

Duane Woodward, hydrologist, said although there are declines, the effects are minimal compared to the overall saturated thickness in many of those areas.

Mick Reynolds, director, requested that staff create a map that depicts the percentage of saturated thickness change in each of the groundwater management areas and the number of years that it takes recharge to move through the vadose zone. Those maps will be distributed at the August board meeting.

Other action/reports:

Canal Updates—Jess Mintken, projects manager, reported that the Rubicon gates have arrived and are installed on the Thirty Mile Irrigation Canal. Mintken said a rededication ceremony and tour of the canal will take place on Aug. 19 for funding partners and the board of directors. Duane Woodward, hydrologist, reported that the canals are becoming operational with the installation of flow measuring devices for return flows. He also reported that Sandy Noecker and Angela Warner have been working on maps that will aid in completing water right transfers.

Funding Amendment—The board approved an amendment to the Platte Basin Water Project Coalition Interlocal Agreement between Central Platte NRD and the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (NDNR) regarding the Thirty Mile Canal rehabilitation funding. The agreement changes the project cost from $3.97 million to $5,053,982 and allows NDNR to provide funding through more than one program.

Expanded Sampling—The NRD will expand water quality sampling in Hall, Hamilton and Dawson counties to assess potential increases in nitrate-nitrogen levels in those areas. Dan Clement, water resources specialist, said the NRD currently tests 500 wells across the District on a three-year rotation and there is a need to sample wells closer together in those areas to determine if levels have increased. Clement said landowners have been notified and staff will begin the expanded sampling this month.

NRCS Report—Teri Edeal, NRCS resource conservationist, reported on programs in Dawson County. Edeal said telemetric flow meters, soil probes, cover crops, solar wells, landscape burns and establishment of pollinator/pheasant habitat areas are working well in the western part of the district.

Budget—The board adopted a total budget of expenditures in the amount of $25,163,300.51. The budget is down from the 2014 fiscal budget of $29.6 million in 2014. The property tax request of $5,730,990.03 is up $555,714.13; with the FY 2014/2015 levy estimated at 0.04244. The 2014 levy was 0.04215. A levy hearing will be held at 1:45 p.m. just prior to the August board meeting, to be held on Sept. 4. Projects and water rights make up the majority of the budget, including the completion of rehab canal projects in Dawson County, J-2 Re-Regulating Reservoir, Prairie/ Silver/Moores Flood Control Project in Hall County, and several other water management projects throughout the district.