Irrigated Acre Certification
The Lower Platte North NRD began certifying all irrigated acres in the district in spring 2010.
The certification process helps verify the number of acres being irrigated by wells and/or surface water throughout the NRD and correct any errors in existing records. The main purpose of the acre certification is to protect future water use for existing irrigators.
Each year, the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) evaluates all river basins in the state to determine if they are “fully appropriated.” (More info here.) When a basin is declared fully-appropriated, NRDs are required to impose a stay on new water wells and expansions of water use, such as new irrigated acres.
While the Lower Platte basin is not currently fully appropriated, that could change after any of DNR's yearly reviews.
“If our basin is declared fully-appropriated by the state, certification will ensure that producers who have made the investment in their irrigation systems can continue to irrigate their existing acres,” said NRD General Manager John Miyoshi. “It’s the best way to protect our irrigators and their operations.”
The certification is also be important for the NRD’s Restricted and Hydrologically Connected Areas, where expansion of irrigated acres requires a variance from the district. Certified acres are used as the baseline when evaluating proposed changes in water use in the moratorium areas.
The intent is to make certification as simple and painless as possible for landowners. Initially, landowners don’t need to do anything; they receive a packet from the NRD when the district is certifying their area. The packet contains current records for their irrigated acres and the well or surface water right(s) used to irrigate those acres, based on county assessor records.
To certify their irrigated acres, landowners need to fill out the Acre Certification form in its entirety and return the signed and dated copy to the NRD. Each packet includes a detailed instruction sheet that thoroughly explains what is required for each question on the form.
If the landowner prefers to call the NRD and go over the information on the phone, all they need do is call (402) 443-4675. Landowners can also call to set up an appointment to have NRD staff help them with the paperwork at the district office in Wahoo. Staff would be happy to make time to meet with the landowner and help them through the process.
If any of the assessor data is incorrect, NRD staff will work with the landowner to correct it and certify the additional acres as irrigated. Staff will also fill out any forms required by the state to amend well registration records and send them to the landowner for signature.
Landowners need to be current on their NRD nitrogen management and water conservation training to have their acres certified.
Failure to successfully certify irrigated acres with the LPNNRD can result in a cease and desist order against irrigation for the affected landowner.