Pressure : 30.06 in
Dewpoint : 45.0 °
Wind : North
Water is life; Shane Stanton from the Department of Natural Resources travels from the Colorado state line to Superior measuring stream flow in the Republican River Basin.
“We do measurements once a month on our stream gauging stations, more if there's a flood even. We'll measure before the flood and after the flood,” said Shane Stanton, Dept. of Natural Resources.
Now for Shane, stream flow recording keeping continues all year long.
The measurements he took today will help show how much water is available for Nebraskans and those in Kansas. It will also go toward the state's IMP or Integrative Management Plan.
But as we learned from the 2003 settlement with Kansas groundwater has a great affect on the surface water in the basin.
“Imagine a river over here and an aquifer here and they're pretty much touching,” said Mike Clements, Manager of Lower Republican NRD.
Mike Clements Lower Republican Natural Resources District Director explains when the aquifer level drops so does the stream flow.
“And pretty soon that aquifer isn't contributing anything to stream flow,” said Clements.
Clements has a map that shows groundwater–level changes in the state in the past 60 or so years. In some areas the Upper Republican shows a groundwater level decline greater than 70 feet. Not everyone downstream is okay with that.
“It affects us greatly. It affects our compact with the state of Kansas without severe depletions in the far western regions of our Republican River Basin there may not be a problem,” said Matt Harrison, Board Member of LRNRD.
Clements said he thinks all three districts are doing everything they can to comply with the compact and focuses on what to do in his.
“We've seen the results in our water use every year. We started out at 11 or 12 inches our last IMP we cut back to nine inches per acre,” said Clements.
Just last week Clements announced a draft for next year's plan that would lower that allocation to 7.2 inches. The district also has weeded the river bank and used a 4 million USDA grant as part of an incentive program.
“We permanently retired about a thousand acres this year just with this program,” said Clements.
But what if all this is not enough?
“If all those things aren't going to be enough when that next dry year comes along we will shut down ground water users that are near the stream and we will administer surface water use to ensure that we do not exceed that allocation,” said Jim Schneider, Nebraska DNR Deputy Director.
But Jim Schneider with the Department of Natural Resources said it could be a lot worse.
“Kansas has basically put forth it's own compliance form for Nebraska and it would include permanently shutting down 515 thousand irrigated acres in the basin and what we're talking about potentially shutting down some ground water users in that in some years we might have to curtail use on 100,000 acres,” said Schneider.
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