Central Platte NRD Says Groundwater Storage Hasn't Reached Critical Levels


On Thursday, Jim Bendfeldt, directorand Variance Committee chairman of the Central Platte Natural Resources District,reported that there is enough groundwater across the CPNRD that irrigation regulations will not be necessary right now.

He said the district has had a Groundwater Management Program in place since 1985 thatcalls for a percentage of the irrigated lands in any of the 24 GroundwaterManagement Areas to be taken out of irrigation production if groundwaterlevels approach a level that the board has established as a "maximum acceptabledecline."

The maximum acceptable decline is a level that would stillallow the aquifer life to be sustained, while at the same time minimizingadverse economic impacts to individual water users. The base year for measuringwater tables and determining the maximum acceptable declines to be allowed, isthe water levels in the spring of 1982.

District-widethere was more groundwater in storage in the spring of 2012 than there was inthe spring of 1982, the base year. New farming techniques andpractices that conserve water and reduce consumption, like minimum tillage anda switch from high pressure to low pressure sprinkler systems, are creditedwith the water savings that make the aquifer report so positive despite severedrought conditions.

Of the 24 GMAsacross the CPNRD, 15 have water levels higher by an average of 5 feet, thanthe 1982 levels. Nine are lower by an average of 3 feet and only two are on the"monitor closely" list because it is an area with a shallower aquifer.

Bendfeldt said spring water table measurements are taken in April and May, so everyone is hoping those ‘April showers' are large enough to soakup the ground and "give us some good recharge."