Anyone wishing to develop new irrigated acres within the Lower Platte North NRD must apply for a variance from the district.

A ranking system is used to allocate the variances. All applications are scored using a variety of criteria, including:

            • whether the request is for expansion of irrigated acres from an existing well or a new well
            • the landowner’s investment in test holes, new equipment, etc., prior to the declaration of the December 16, 2008 moratorium
            • the type of irrigation system to be used
            • the number of acres to be developed
            • the land class and aquifer thickness for the acres to be developed
            • specific yield – volume of water released from storage by an aquifer
            • transmissivity – rate of flow that measures the material capacity to transmit water
            • minimum score of 300 is needed to be considered for variance approval
            • land classes 6-8, with slopes greater than 20% of the parcel are not eligible for a variance

Variance Request Requirements

A Variance request must include:

              • Variance request application form (available here; for variances application forms for land in Restricted Development Areas, please contact us)
              • Variance request fee*
              • current assessor records for the proposed field
              • aerial photo of the proposed field from NRCS.

*Fees range from $75-$575 depending on the number of acres requested. Please contact our office for details.

If the application is for a new well, then test hole information is also required. One test hole at the well site is required for any new well. If the field is inside the Restricted Development Area and within one mile of the RDA border, three test holes are required: one at the proposed well site and the other two within 300 feet of the well site and from each other.

If the expansion for irrigation is from an existing well then no test holes are required.

If the Variance request is approved, the well owner has 90 days after the date of issuance to meet certain other conditions imposed by the NRD. Please contact us for details.

For all approved Variances in any of the Water Development Areas, whether for a new or existing well, a water flow meter must be installed and the amount of water pumped each year must be reported to the NRD.

When a variance is issued for a new water well, producers still need to get a well permit before drilling the well. If a variance request is granted for expanded irrigation from an existing well, a new well permit is not required.

Variance requests that don’t score highly enough to receive an allocation within a given application period are rolled over for a maximum of 3 years.


Application Periods

Application periods for variance requests are one year long and run as follows:


Non-Hydrologically Connected Areas: Application period begins August 16 and runs until August 15 the following year.

Hydrologically Connected Areas: Application period begins September 16 and runs until September 15 of the following year.

Restricted Development Areas: application deadline may be August 15 or September 15, depending on the type of development area adjacent to the field. To be on the safe side, applications should be in to our office by August 15.

Please note that variance requests have been very high in recent application periods. With the limited number of acres available each year, we are typically not able to accommodate all requests.