URNRD Gets Preliminary Approval for $300k Grant

URNRD Gets Preliminary Approval for $300k Grant

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Upper Republican NRD has received preliminary approval for a $300,00 grant that will help the District conserve more water and prepare for periods of drought when water availability is most vital. The District is one of 14 entities nationally and the only in Nebraska to be awarded a grant under the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's WaterSMART Drought Resiliency Project Grants.

With help from the grant funds, the District plans to equip approximately 200 irrigation well flow meters throughout the District with units that will allow farmers and NRD staff to see, in real-time, how much water is being applied. The equipment detects flow from existing prop-type, manual flow meters and relays the usage info via cellular or satellite signals. The real time information will have multiple benefits, including allowing farmers to see whether actual water usage matches with amounts they believe they are applying and making irrigation decisions relative to their allocations. Additionally, funds will be used to install transducers in approximately 15 groundater level monitoring wells in proximity to the flow meters equipped with the units. They will allow near real-time transmittal of groundwater levels and in conjunction with the flow meter data will give the NRD and farmers a better understanding of the relationships between varying levels of irrigation and groundwater levels.

Finally, funds will be used to purchase weather stations that will be installed throughout the District. Besides the expected weather data such as precipitation amounts and temperatures, the stations will measure evapotranspiration, which is the act of water evaporating from surfaces such as soil, and transpiration of water from plants that are consuming water. Evapotranspiration data can be very useful in determing whether amounts of irrigation water being applied to crops corresponds with actual crop water needs. The data will be available to everyone within the District.

The NRD hopes to have some test units to install on flow meters in the District this summer and may install the other units, along with the groundwater level monitoring equipment and weather stations, late this year and next year.