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      Irrigation Districts Set Allocations to Deal with Low Water Supplies

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      Drought conditions may be showing improvement in portions of Nebraska, but farmers are still dealing with tight water supplies.

      The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District has set an allocation rate of 9 inches per acre for the 2014 irrigation season due to below normal storage levels in Lake McConaughy.

      The average delivery for farmers would be 18 inches per acre. Last year officials set it at 10 inches per acre.

      The lake is the main water source for the canal system thatpumps water to several Nebraska farm acres.

      Additionally, the district's board of directors approved modifications to the allocation year transfer policy to include use of wells in the E65 Canal service area. The policy will provide more flexibility in helping farmers meet the irrigation needs of their crops.

      Meanwhile, the Lower Platte North Natural Resources District board lifted its moratorium on new irrigation wells, as well as imposed allocations in portions of a few northeast Nebraska counties.

      Monday, the board created two so-called special water quantity areas in an effort to stabilize aquifers in Butler, Saunders, Platte and Colfax counties. Water tables had dropped more than 50 feet in some areas, and some domestic wells dried up during the past two summers.

      Irrigators in both special areas would be allocated 27 inches of water an acre over a three-year period. The allocations would begin in areas of Butler and Saunders counties in 2015 and Colfax and Platte areas in 2016.

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