Central Platte NRD Says Groundwater Storage Hasn't Reached Criti - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

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

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On Thursday, Jim Bendfeldt, director and 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 that calls for a percentage of the irrigated lands in any of the 24 Groundwater Management Areas to be taken out of irrigation production if groundwater levels approach a level that the board has established as a "maximum acceptable decline." 

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

District-wide there was more groundwater in storage in the spring of 2012 than there was in the spring of 1982, the base year. New farming techniques and practices that conserve water and reduce consumption, like minimum tillage and a switch from high pressure to low pressure sprinkler systems, are credited with the water savings that make the aquifer report so positive despite severe drought conditions. 

Of the 24 GMAs across the CPNRD, 15 have water levels higher by an average of 5 feet, than the 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 soak up the ground and "give us some good recharge."

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