Quantity Rules & Regulations - Water Development Areas
There are three major types of Water Development Areas in the Lower Platte North NRD:
- Non-Hydrologically Connected Areas (NHCAs) - up to 1,000 new irrigated acres per year
- Hydrologically Connected Areas (HCAs) - up to 2,500 new irrigated acres per year
- Restricted Development Areas - no new irrigated acres or water use allowed
In addition, there are two Special Quantity Subareas in Butler/Saunders and Platte/Colfax counties. No new or expanded irrigated acres are allowed in these areas, and several other restrictions apply.
Variances are required for any new irrigated acres within the NRD. Before a well permit can be issued, you must have a variance from the NRD. Get more info on Variance Requests here.
The entire district is considered a "Level One" area, and all operators of irrigation, municipal, and industrial wells are required to be certified every four years.
Get a more detailed, printable PDF map (8.5x14 Legal):
In the NRD's Non-Hydrologically Connected Areas (NHCAs), up to 1,000 new irrigated acres can be developed in a one-year period. Variance requests must be received in our office by August 15th of each year to be considered for the following year’s irrigation season. These Variance requests will be reviewed, given a ranking score, and a limited number of applications may be approved at the following September Board Meeting. Please wait to hear from the NRD before you buy any equipment, drill a well, etc.
The NRD's Hydrologically Connected Areas (HCAs) cover most of the Shell Creek, Platte Valley and Todd Valley aquifer regions. These areas were placed under a state-imposed moratorium in December 2008 when the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources preliminarily declared the Lower Platte Basin to be "fully-appropriated." The state later reversed that preliminary declaration and the moratorium areas were opened back up to limited irrigation development.
Up to a total of 2,500 acres a year can be developed in HCAs. Variance requests must be received in our office by September 15th of each year to be considered for the following year’s irrigation season. These Variance requests will be reviewed, given a ranking score, and a limited number of applications may be approved at the following October Board Meeting. Please wait to hear from the NRD before you buy any equipment, drill a well, etc.
The NRD's Restricted Development Areas encompass portions of the uplands region in Butler, Dodge and Saunders counties. Aquifers in these areas are thin or of limited size, therefore this type of development area is treated differently from the other two.
Offsets are required, so if a landowner wishes to expand their water use at one location, then a similar amount of water use or acres must be retired within the same subarea. In this case the offset will be treated as a water transfer.
Variance requests (with no offsets required) will be accepted for expanded irrigation if the field is within one mile of the border of the Restricted Development Area. Acre-inch allocations can be established and in a worst-case scenario, the well permit could be withdrawn and further water use prohibited.
If the Variance request is for a new well, then:
- New field limited to 160 acres or less
- No transfer of acres to another site
- Adjacent landowners will be notified
- Ground water levels could be measured by the LPNNRD
- Well owner must properly install a gravel pack measurement tube when well is drilled
The deadline to submit applications can vary depending on the type of adjacent Development Area, but in most cases it would be best for the landowner to assume the deadline is August 15th so the application will be received on time at the NRD.
Variance requests from the RDA will be reviewed with other applications from the adjacent Areas, given a ranking score, and a limited number of applications may be approved at the following September or October Board Meeting for the following year’s irrigation season. Please wait to hear from the LPNNRD before you buy any equipment, drill a well, etc.
In the Restricted Development Area, Variances are also required on small capacity wells except for a domestic well irrigating less than 1 acre of land or a well used to water range livestock.
There are two Special Quantity Subareas in the NRD, in Butler/Saunders and Platte/Colfax counties. The Butler/Saunders area covers approximately 56 square miles of east-central Butler County and 30 square miles of west-central Saunders County. The Platte/Colfax area covers approximately 100 square miles of central Platte County and 32 square miles of west-central Colfax County.
Get a more detailed, printable PDF map:
Get a more detailed, printable PDF map:
In these areas, groundwater levels can be highly volatile and heavily influenced by drought and groundwater pumping.
Several requirements apply in the SQSs:
- acre inch allocation of irrigation water (beginning 2015 crop year for Butler/Saunders area and 2016 crop year for Platte/Colfax area) - amounts to be determined
- no new or expanded irrigated acres
- all existing irrigated acres must be certified with the NRD by May 15, 2014
- beginning in 2015, flow meters required on all irrigation wells (see requirements & approved models here)
- annual reporting of static water levels for all irrigation wells
- new domestic and livestock wells must be drilled to a depth that will avoid seasonal water declines caused by existing wells nearby
Restrictions on pumping during certain times of the day or the establishment of a system of rotation for pumping could also apply in the SQSs.
For more information concerning ground water quantity management, also review Groundwater Quantity Rules and Regulations – Level Management Areas.
The full text of the NRD's GWMA Rules and Regulations is available as a PDF in our Downloads section.
For more information on the NRD's Water Development Areas, contact Larry Angle, Water Resources Manager.