Proposed NRD Rules Changes Go To Hearing

Proposed NRD Rules Changes Go To Hearing

Monday, February 13, 2023

Proposed changes to water-use regulations including the 2023-2027 allocation will have a public hearing on March 14 before a final vote by the Upper Republican NRD Board of Directors.

The proposal from the board that will have a public hearing at 9 a.m. on the 14th includes a reduction in the five-year allocation to 62.5” of total water use per acre during the 2023-2027 allocation period. The allocation since 2008 has been 65”. The proposed change is part of a decades-long effort to slow groundwater declines in the district and preserve the irrigation-based economy of the area. The allocation has dropped by about 40 percent since the late 1970’s; groundwater declines since then have been about 60 percent less than what was estimated to occur without regulations.

There are no proposed changes to the 7.5” limit on carryforward use during the allocation period. Irrigators can use a total of 7.5” of carryforward during the allocation period without incurring a “2-for-1” penalty whereby 2” of carryforward are deducted for every 1” of carryforward used above 7.5”.

In addition to the allocation reduction, rules changes proposed by the board include:

  • Expanding the boundary in which wells can be pooled to nine miles; the current boundary is six miles.
  • Not averaging the beginning allocations and carryforward balances across all tracts within a pool when a pooling application is approved or terminated, unless requested by owners of tracts in a pool.
  • If the allocations within a pool are not requested to be averaged, a tract brought into a pool may have more than 39” of carryforward.
  • Adding a tract to a pool must be requested by July 31 of the second year of the allocation period (2024).
  •  Certified-acre reductions and allocation restrictions will not apply when new irrigation uses that require offsets occur within a floating township, so long as the new use causes improvement in irrigation efficiency or the new land to be irrigated has better soil.
  • When calculating certified acre/allocation reductions of new uses due to historic use on land providing the offset, historic use from the period 2013-2022 will be used.
  • There will be a $150 fee to apply for a standard variance; the fee for a variance that includes required offset of uses outside a floating township will be $500.

A “redlined” version of the proposed rules changes that shows existing rules is available at the NRD office in Imperial, the NRCS office in Grant and at: