GRAND ISLAND — Average 2019 spring groundwater levels in the Central Platte Natural Resources District have increased 2.08 feet since 1982, GIS image analyst Luke Zakrzewski reported at Thursday’s board meeting in Grand Island.

According to a press release, the levels are averaged from the 437 wells that NRD staff took readings during mid-April to mid-June.

Central Platte includes all or part of 11 counties — Dawson, Frontier, Custer, Buffalo, Hall, Howard, Nance, Merrick, Hamilton, Platte and Polk.

Zakrzewski said all 24 groundwater management areas within the district saw increases because of timely rains during the 2018 irrigation season that continued throughout the fall and spring 2019 precipitation that was 200 percent to 300 percent above normal.

A comparison of 1982 levels was set as the standard for CPNRD’s Groundwater Management Plan, along with maximum acceptable declines and a margin of safety calculated for each of the 24 management areas.

Four management areas currently are in the 25 percent decline suspension level, which means there can be no transfers of irrigated acres into the areas or supplemental wells. CPNRD rules require that those areas remain in suspension mode for five years.

Two of those areas are above the 25 percent decline for the second consecutive year, while the remaining two areas are showing an increase for their first year.

If the water table would fall to 50 percent of the maximum decline, Phase Two rules would take effect requiring mandatory reductions in irrigated acres.

For details, see interactive maps at cpnrd.gisworkshop.com.

In other business Thursday, the board:

- Approved the fiscal year 2020 budget of expenditures for a public hearing at 1:45 p.m. July 25, prior to the next regular board meeting. General Manager Lyndon Vogt said the tax request for the preliminary budget is an estimated $4.2 million, which would be down $306,000 from FY2019.

- Approved a contract with JEO Consulting for $47,150 to design and oversee repairs and/or removal of dams next fall and spring on Box Elder, Clear and Jones creeks. Box Elder 5A dam in Buffalo County needs channel improvements and dredging of sediment from the pool area. The other two projects are in Polk County.

- Was told by Joe Krolikowski, the district’s liaison with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, that Nebraska NRCS offices have received a waiver on completing compliance reviews for wetland conversions and reducing soil erosion on highly erodible land in Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster declaration areas, including Custer, Dawson and Buffalo counties in Hub Territory.

- Was told by programs coordinator Kelly Cole that CPNRD sold 29,775 tree seedlings and 7.84 miles of weed barrier through the Conservation Tree Program in 2019. Long-term totals include 3,759,993 trees since 1973 and 591.37 miles of weed barrier since 1991.

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