Holdrege– The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District's board of directors approved the operating budget for the 2013 fiscal year at Monday's monthly board meeting.
The budget, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, anticipates total revenues of $14.98 million, including $7.73 million from the sale of hydroelectric power, $3.36 million from irrigation delivery service, and $3.89 million from other sources.
Included in the budget was a three percent increase in irrigation rates for the 2013 season, bringing the base rate to $30.75 per acre. Under Central's Incremental Pricing Program, the rate for deliveries above nine acre-inches and up to 18 acre-inches, will be an additional $1.08 per acre-inch.
Also at Monday's board meeting:
- Conservation Director Marcia Trompke presented information about conservation activities and recent irrigation system improvements. Over the past two years, she said, irrigation customers have added 77 pivots to Central's system, with more than 40 expected to be installed for the 2013 irrigation season.
"More than half of Central's contract acres are irrigated by pivots," Trompke said, "and that number is going to continue to rise. The trend toward replacing gated pipe with pivots has not slowed at all. I think we'll continue to see pivots replacing pipe wherever it's possible."
In addition, she said, there are now seven sub-surface drip irrigation systems delivering water from Central's canals, with three more to be added for 2013.
System improvements – either recently completed or scheduled for completion in time for next year's irrigation deliveries -- include installation of about one mile of buried pipeline and three-tenths of a mile of synthetic canal lining. Also, Central has installed flow meters on 1,722 of 1,747 active turnouts (98.5 percent) to measure on-farm deliveries.
- Irrigation Water Management Specialist Curtis Scheele reported that a total of 161 conservation-related contracts worth $3.4 million were written in 2012 in Gosper, Phelps and Kearney counties.
Included in that number were 53 Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) contracts that accounted for $1.4 million in cost-shared improvements and 52 Conservation Stewardship Program contracts that provided $1.2 million for activities that encourage producers to install, improve, maintain and/or manage conservation activities on agricultural land. Also, three pivots on Central's system were made possible by $109,800 in cost-share funding from the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program. The three programs are administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
The IWMS position is cooperatively funded by Central, Tri-Basin Natural Resources District, and the NRCS.
- General Manager Don Kraus briefed the board on a presentation he made in November at a University of Nebraska-Lincoln water conference. Kraus was part of a panel that discussed a proposal by two Platte River Natural Resources Districts to convert Central's surface water irrigation project to a groundwater recharge project.
Kraus told the board that analysis of available information has revealed additional concerns with the NRDs' proposal, including an apparent monthly recharge rate that is nearly four times greater than can actually be provided by Central's canals. In addition, the proposed annual total diversions for recharge are significantly less than baseline diversions into the canal system, raising serious questions about the long-term sustainability of the area's water supplies.
"However, we still haven't received the groundwater modeling files, so it's not possible to perform a more thorough analysis of the data," he said. "We'll continue to study the issue if the information becomes available."
- The board approved several water service agreements and terminations resulting in a net gain of 126 acres.
- The board approved a revision to the Transfer of Contract Acres policy that makes contract acres served by the Supply Canal eligible for participation in transfers.
- The board approved an agreement with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Platte River Habitat Partnership and Rowe Sanctuary to share costs associated with removal of trees from 71 acres on Jeffrey Island for wildlife habitat enhancements.
- Civil engineer Cory Steinke reported that Lake McConaughy was at elevation 3238.0 feet as of Monday morning (1.04 million acre-feet in storage; or 59.8 percent of capacity). Recent inflows to the reservoir have been around 1,100 cubic feet per second, which is about 80 percent of normal for this time of year.