Phone: (308) 995-8601
  • Feb. 7, 2014 — Final Groundwater Evaluation Report conducted by EA Enginnering of Lincoln, Nebraska. CLICK HERE TO READ REPORT
  • Text of the policy to allow surface water deliveries to be transferred for one year from a tract of land to a different tract of land when a normal delivery rate and volume are not available. CLICK HERE TO READ POLICY
  • Central’s four hydroplants are certified low impact hydropower facilities. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE
  • Testimony of The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District Regarding the Draft Basin-wide Plan for Integrated Water Resources Management of Overappropriated Portions of the Platte River Basin in Nebraska
    July 8, 2009

    The basin-wide integrated management plan (IMP) should be a plan that manages basin-wide integrated water resources uses, that provides basin-wide direction to those particular individual NRDs whose hydrologically connected ground water uses are having significant adverse impacts beyond the boundaries of the NRD, that resolves conflicts between ground water uses and surface water appropriations located in different locations throughout the state, and that protects the rights of senior appropriators. Unfortunately, the basin-wide integrated management plan being proposed by the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Platte River natural resources districts (NRDs) fails to accomplish any of these objectives.

    The Platte River is the most important river system in Nebraska. The Platte River basin in Nebraska stretches from the Nebraska Panhandle in the west to the Missouri River in the east; and encompasses more than half of the area of the state. More surface water irrigation, more groundwater irrigation, and more hydropower production takes place in the Platte River basin than in any other basin in Nebraska. The Platte River and its tributaries are the source of water for Nebraska’s largest irrigation district, The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District (Central); Nebraska’s largest power plant, Nebraska Public Power District’s Gerald Gentleman Station; Nebraska’s largest reservoir, Lake McConaughy; and municipal wellfields for four of Nebraska’s five largest cities, Omaha, Lincoln, Grand Island, and Kearney. Some of the state’s most important recreation areas rely on water from, or are otherwise associated with, the North Platte River and Platte River; including Lake McConaughy, Lake Ogallala, Sutherland Reservoir, Johnson Lake, Two Rivers State Recreation Area, Platte River State Park, and Eugene T. Mahoney State Park. The Platte River has been identified by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and several environmental organizations as being important to certain threatened or endangered species; including the whooping crane, the interior least tern, the northern Great Plains piping plover, and the pallid sturgeon.

    Platte River water users in one location often rely on a water supply that originates in another part of the basin. Frequently, the source and the use are so far removed that they may not occur within a single NRD, or even within adjacent NRDs. Similarly, new water uses in one part of the basin can impact other users far from where the new use occurs, including across NRD boundaries.

    In Nebraska, integrated management plans are the statutory scheme developed for resolving conflicts between ground water users and surface water appropriators. Where a fully appropriated or overappropriated basin is contained within a single NRD, or where conflicts between groundwater users and surface water appropriators are contained within a single NRD, an individual IMP for the NRD in question may be all that is required. However, where a fully appropriated or overappropriated basin encompasses multiple NRDs, or where conflicts exist between groundwater uses in one NRD and surface water appropriators in another NRD, a basin-wide IMP is needed in addition to the individual NRD IMPs.

    Unfortunately, in cases where groundwater uses within an NRD are interfering with the water supplies of surface water users outside of that NRD, it is virtually impossible for the injured surface water users to obtain proper relief by bringing their complaint to the NRD where the groundwater use is occurring. It should not be a surprise to anyone to find that the NRD in question always seems to view the local groundwater uses as more reasonable or more important as compared to the injured surface water use that takes place somewhere far removed from their local area. In these cases where water uses within an NRD are causing harm outside the NRD, integrated water management decisions are a basin-wide concern, and should be made at a basin-wide level.

    Consider the case of ground water uses in the North Platte NRD depleting the water supply of the North Platte River to the detriment of The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District and related downstream uses. Central’s facilities consist of Lake McConaughy, Supply Canal, and Irrigation System, located along the North Platte River and Platte River downstream from the North Platte NRD. Central’s system and water supply provides numerous benefits, including: deliveries to over 100,000 acres of land that irrigate directly from Central’s system, located primarily in Gosper, Phelps, and Kearney Counties; irrigation storage water for an additional 100,000 acres on 11 other canal systems in Lincoln, Dawson, Keith, Garden, and Morrill Counties; hydropower generation at Central’s Kingsley, Jeffrey, Johnson No. 1 and Johnson No. 2 hydropower plants; hydropower generation or cooling water for Nebraska Public Power District’s North Platte Hydro, Gerald Gentleman Station, and Canaday Steam Plant; recreation at numerous reservoirs, including Lake McConaughy, Lake Ogallala, Jeffrey Lake, Midway Lake, Gallagher Canyon Reservoir, Plum Creek Canyon Reservoir, Johnson Lake, and Elwood Reservoir; aquifer recharge in accordance with underground storage appropriations to more than 1,000,000 acres in Gosper, Phelps, Kearney, Lincoln, Dawson, and Frontier Counties; return flows to the Platte River; an Environmental Account for use for threatened and endangered species on the Platte River; flow contributions to the Republican River that provide a credit for Nebraska under the Republican River Compact; and wintertime open water for bald eagle feeding. Central operates in accordance with appropriations granted by the State of Nebraska, contracts with customers, and a hydropower license from the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Lake McConaughy, which stores North Platte River streamflow, is critical to Central’s operations and the many benefits listed above.

    Pumping from wells in the North Platte NRD is depleting the North Platte River streamflow at a current rate of over 125,000 acre-feet per year, and the amount continues to grow. As a matter of comparison, this is equal to 14 percent of the normal inflow into Lake McConaughy, 23 percent of the inflow into Lake McConaughy during the current drought, 139 percent of Central’s normal average irrigation deliveries, and 287 percent of Central’s average irrigation deliveries during the current drought. As a result of the depletions caused by pumping in the North Platte NRD, Lake McConaughy contents, irrigation deliveries, hydropower generation, cooling water availability, water levels for recreation, aquifer recharge, Platte River return flows, Environmental Account contributions, flows to the Republican River basin, and open water for eagles have all been reduced. It is addressing these streamflow depletions and the resultant adverse impacts which should be the focus of the integrated management plan for the North Platte NRD.

    When Central has brought these concerns to the North Platte NRD, the results have been disappointing. Of course, this is exactly what might be expected. Ultimately, Central is asking the locally elected directors of the North Platte NRD to accept painful reductions in water use for their constituents, their communities, and in some cases themselves, for the protection of uses that take place outside of their local area, and in some cases hundreds of miles away. Instead of determining an amount of use that would be likely to protect water supplies for existing downstream users, they question the value of those downstream uses as compared to their own local uses. The many beneficial downstream uses; such as instream flows, aquifer recharge, or Republican River contributions; are looked on by them as unimportant, unnecessary, or even wasteful. Whereas proper management of limited resources dictates that water use should be reduced where the supply is least able to support the use; they instead argue that the lower rates of precipitation in their area are justification for greater amounts of use. Notwithstanding significant amounts of information given to them regarding the adverse impacts of pumping within their NRD, they claim that there is no evidence of any harm to downstream users.

    One of the purposes of the basin-wide IMP, then, should be this: to identify those NRDs within the overappropriated basin in which ground water uses are significantly interfering with water uses outside of those NRDs, and to determine an amount of use or depletions that may be made within those NRDs that would reasonably be expected to significantly reduce or eliminate the adverse impacts outside those NRDs. The amount of allowed use or depletions having been determined by the basin-wide IMP, it would then be left to the individual NRD IMP, and the decisions of the local NRD, to determine by what means those use or depletion objectives might be achieved; whether it be by allocation, retirements, interference agreements, or any other means.

    In the case of the Platte River, Central believes the area where ground water uses are significantly adversely impacting basin-wide surface water uses is the North Platte NRD. This is not to say that ground water uses in other parts of the designated overappropriated area do not have any adverse impacts on surface water uses, but those impacts pale in comparison to the consequences of overuse in the North Platte NRD. Indeed, the adverse impacts caused by ground water uses in the North Platte NRD alone are so great that, had they never occurred, it is conceivable that other portions of the basin could perhaps only be fully appropriated rather than overappropriated.

    Central believes that the basin-wide plan should be used to set basin-wide or state-wide policy regarding the balancing of competing water uses and make an effort to resolve conflicts already known to exist, as was part of the intent of the legislature in passing the Nebraska Ground Water Management and Protection Act. Central believes that the basin-wide plan should identify an amount of allowable ground water use or an amount of allowable depletions to streamflow for the North Platte NRD, and that the allowable use or depletions should vary with variations in river flow (with greater uses or depletions allowed when river flows are at or above normal, and significantly reduced uses or depletions allowed when river flows are below normal), and that any remaining impacts to appropriators be otherwise mitigated or compensated. Central also believes that the rights of senior appropriators should be respected; ideally by preventing or reducing interference to those appropriations; or ultimately, to the extent that the State of Nebraska and the NRDs conclude that as a matter of policy it is best that water resources be reallocated from senior appropriators to junior ground water users, then those impacted appropriators should be appropriately compensated.
    Unfortunately, this is not the approach that has been taken by the DNR and the NRDs. The basin-wide IMP as proposed does little more than restate existing statutes related to returning to 1997 conditions, to the point that one wonders what value the basin-wide IMP has at all. The plan does not give basin-wide or state-wide guidance on appropriate amounts of water use or depletions. There is nothing in the basin-wide IMP that attempts to resolve those conflicts between ground water users and surface water appropriators that are already known to exist. The basin-wide plan fails to respect the rights of senior appropriators.

  • Testimony of The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District Regarding the Draft Integrated Management Plan for the North Platte Natural Resources District
    June 17, 2009

    The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District’s facilities consist of Lake McConaughy, Supply Canal, and Irrigation System, along the North Platte and Platte Rivers downstream from the North Platte Natural Resources District. Central’s system and water supply provides numerous benefits, including: deliveries to over 100,000 acres of land that irrigate directly from Central’s system, located primarily in Gosper, Phelps, and Kearney Counties; irrigation storage water for an additional 100,000 acres on 11 other canal systems in Lincoln, Dawson, Keith, Garden, and Morrill Counties; hydropower generation at Central’s Kingsley, Jeffrey, Johnson No. 1 and Johnson No. 2 hydropower plants; hydropower generation or cooling water for Nebraska Public Power District’s North Platte Hydro, Gerald Gentleman Station, and Canaday Steam Plant; recreation at numerous reservoirs, including Lake McConaughy, Lake Ogallala, Jeffrey Lake, Midway Lake, Gallagher Canyon Reservoir, Plum Creek Canyon Reservoir, Johnson Lake, and Elwood Reservoir; aquifer recharge in accordance with underground storage appropriations to more than 1,000,000 acres in Gosper, Phelps, Kearney, Lincoln, Dawson, and Frontier Counties; return flows to the Platte River; an Environmental Account for use for threatened and endangered species on the Platte River; flow contributions to the Republican River that provide a credit for Nebraska under the Republican River Compact; and wintertime open water for bald eagle feeding. Central operates in accordance with appropriations granted by the State of Nebraska, contracts with customers, and a hydropower license from the United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

    Though Central has a number of direct-flow appropriations for irrigation and hydropower production, because of the very junior priority dates of those appropriations, storage water in Lake McConaughy is critical to Central’s operations and the many benefits just listed. Lake McConaughy relies almost exclusively on the marginal flows of the North Platte River; particularly that streamflow originating within the North Platte NRD as a result of the movement of water from the aquifer to the river and its tributaries. In the original case of Nebraska vs. Wyoming, consideration had been given to the question of whether or not a part of the water supply then in question should be assigned to downstream interests; with the Special Master ultimately determining that it would not be necessary for the specific reason that it was expected that downstream interests would be able to rely on these marginal flows of the North Platte River, and be able to store such flows in Lake McConaughy.

    Pumping from wells in the North Platte NRD is depleting the North Platte River streamflow at a current rate of over 125,000 acre-feet per year, and the amount continues to grow. As a matter of comparison, this is equal to 14 percent of the normal inflow into Lake McConaughy, 23 percent of the inflow into Lake McConaughy during the current drought, 139 percent of Central’s normal average irrigation deliveries, and 287 percent of Central’s average irrigation deliveries during the current drought. As a result of the depletions caused by pumping in the North Platte NRD, Lake McConaughy contents, irrigation deliveries, hydropower generation, cooling water availability, water levels for recreation, aquifer recharge, Platte River return flows, Environmental Account contributions, flows to the Republican River basin, and open water for eagles have all been reduced. It is addressing these streamflow depletions and the resultant adverse impacts which should be the focus of the integrated management plan for the North Platte NRD.

    The proposed IMP fails to respect the rights of prior appropriators. With rare exception, hydrologically connected wells in the North Platte NRD, and their depletions to streamflow, are junior in time to most appropriations within and downstream from the North Platte NRD. The IMP should include goals, objectives, or actions that would protect the rights of senior appropriators. Through the IMP, the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources and the North Platte NRD should quantify impacts to senior appropriations, quantify amounts of use reasonably expected to avoid impacts to senior appropriations, manage well uses in a way that avoid or reduces impacts to senior appropriators, provide replacement water for impacts that are not avoided, enter into interference agreements with senior appropriations, or compensate senior appropriators for impacts to their water supply.

    The proposed IMP fails to resolve conflicts between ground water uses and surface water appropriators. According to § 46-703 of the Nebraska Ground Water Management and Protection Act, it is the intent of the legislature that the DNR and NRDs identify and implement management solutions to such conflicts. In no other NRD in the Platte River basin is conflict between ground water and surface water uses more apparent than in the North Platte NRD. Surface water users on Pumpkin Creek are currently in litigation against well owners in that watershed for drying up that stream, and Central has raised similar complaints about the impacts of those wells as part of those proceedings. Central has previously brought a complaint against hydrologically connected wells located upstream from Lake McConaughy. Streams, ponds, and wetlands within the North Platte NRD are drying up. The many downstream uses that are being hurt by North Platte NRD streamflow depletions have been described earlier in this testimony. Notwithstanding all of this, the draft IMP does not identify any management activities that would resolve these conflicts. The draft IMP does contain some reference near the end to a process in the Basin-Wide IMP whereby aggrieved parties can supposedly bring a complaint and have the conflict addressed through changes to the IMP; but since the conflicts within the North Platte NRD are already well known and yet are not addressed, it seems questionable to expect that those same conflicts raised again in the future will be given any different treatment, which is no treatment at all.

    The proposed IMP significantly underestimates streamflow depletions caused by wells in the North Platte NRD. The IMP uses results from certain Cooperative Hydrology Study models for estimates of streamflow depletions. COHYST is a major, collaborative, multi-year effort to improve our understanding of Platte River basin hydrology in Nebraska. Central supports this effort, and is one of the many COHYST Sponsors. However, the current COHYST models are known to have a number of limitations or other problems that make it inappropriate for them to be used for estimating streamflow depletions at this time. Problems with these models include such things as not including any impacts associated with supplemental or co-mingled wells, projecting depletions based only on average rather than variable water supplies and uses, reliance on a so-called “recharge bump” that artificially adds water to the system and masks the impacts of well development, and lacking a proper streamflow calibration. These problems are not new; they have been known to the COHYST members, including the North Platte NRD and the DNR, for quite some time. And the consequences of these model deficiencies are not insignificant. Indeed, when Central hired an outside modeling expert to incorporate changes into the models to address these same identified issues, the results were quite dramatic. The result was an estimate of depletions now at a rate in excess of 125,000 acre-feet per year, approximately four times greater than the approximately 32,000 acre-foot estimate reported by the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts in 2007 based on the COHYST models in their current flawed form. The obligation to use the best available science is not satisfied simply by using the newest models available, but requires also that deficiencies and limitations in those models be acknowledged and accommodated. The DNR and NRD should modify the COHYST models to address these issues before using the depletion estimates in the IMP; should adjust the model results to account for the known model deficiencies; or should adopt some other methodology instead of, or in addition to, the models for estimating depletions.

    The proposed IMP overestimates offsets resulting from surface water retirements in the North Platte NRD. Under the draft IMP, there is a total and immediate offset credit given for discontinued use of surface water or co-mingled irrigation, such as may occur through the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, the Environmental Quality Incentive Program, the Agricultural Water Resources Enhancement Program, or the Platt Basin Habitat Enhancement Program. Such a crediting for these reduced surface water uses is completely inappropriate. First of all, it is improper to assume that all retired surface water uses would have had a full supply of water to begin with, because many surface water users could have a limited available supply from natural flow or storage water from time to time. Indeed, water-short irrigators are among those most likely to sign up for such irrigation-idling programs, and there certainly is no logic at all in assuming a one-hundred percent surface water use for those lands that have seen the need to install a supplemental or co-mingled well. Additionally, it is simply not true that the forgone surface water use, whatever amount it may be, will just remain in the river to serve as an offset for some other depletion. More likely, the unused water will instead be used by remaining irrigators of the same irrigation canal, be diverted by the next water-short appropriator in order of priority, or retained in upstream storage for use at some future date. Any offset credits for surface water retirements should be limited to those appropriations that actually go through a transfer in accordance with surface water statutes, or that amount of water that the DNR can actually determine to be in the river at the appropriate time and location after adjusting for actual available supply and ultimate disposition of the unused water.

    The IMP improperly focuses on averages in the estimation of depletions and offsets; failing to take into consideration hydrologic variations from season-to-season and year-to-year. Timing of water availability is critically important in the Platte River. Water supplies in the Platte River system are highly variable. The amount of water used by wells, and consequently depleted from the stream, goes up and down in relation to supply. In other words, as growing-season precipitation or surface water supplies available for North Platte NRD water users decrease, the amount of well pumping and depletions to streamflow increase. Likewise, as precipitation or surface water supplies decrease, the harm caused to other users by streamflow depletions is increased. Unfortunately, the IMP only estimates depletions, and therefore only identifies a need for offsets, in terms of annual averages. The consequence is that in times of shortage, such as the current drought, the estimated average streamflow depletion is greatly understating the amount of depletion that is actually occuring, and if only the average offset is provided, there would exist in reality a significant actual depletion that is not being offset. Conversely, when there is plenty of water available in the system, the actual depletion and the need for offset may be less than the average estimate. However, providing the additional offset during this time of plenty very likely does not make up for under-offsetting during the drier times, as the users injured during the dry times may be different from, or have little need for, the additional offset at that time. Another problem with the use of the depletion and offset estimates is that they are annual. Just as water supplies and demands vary from year to year, so it is also true that they vary from season to season. Streamflow in the irrigation season most often goes first to satisfy irrigation before other demands, whereas streamflow in the non-irrigation season most often goes first to satisfy demands for storage and power generation. Depletions and offsets in the irrigation season and non-irrigation season have different consequences to different appropriations, and a contribution of flow in one season does not necessarily suffice to offset for a depletion in another. Nontheless, the IMP contains no seasonal breakdown of the depletion and offset estimates. The IMP should provide variable estimates for depletions and offsets, according to variations in hydrologic conditions and time of year, instead of just estimates based on annual averages.

    The proposed IMP fails to recognize and appropriately manage for variability in the water supply. When water supplies run short, most water uses are curtailed. As mentioned previously, water supplies in the Platte River system are highly variable, with times of plenty and times of shortage. In times of shortage, surface water uses are reduced in conjunction with reductions in supply. For example, in the current drought, Central’s total hydropower production has been reduced by 57 percent, with discretionary releases of storage water for hydropower production having been eliminated altogether; Central’s irrigators have had their delivery allocation cut by at least 53 percent for the last 5 years, and by 63 percent in 3 of the last 5 years; Central has ceased use of Elwood Reservoir; and Central has reduced the amount of water made available to other irrigation districts. Also during this time, recreational users have had to endure lower water levels at Lake McConaughy and several other reservoirs, contributions to the Environmental Account have been reduced, and recharge in the Tri-Basin NRD and flow contributions to the Republican River basin have been diminished. By contrast, during times of shortage, such as the current drought, the amount of water used by wells in the North Platte NRD increases substantially; right at the time when the water supply, and other users are dependent on that same water supply, can least afford for that increase to occur. It may be that a 14-inch allocation, such as that contained in the draft IMP, is suitable when there is ample water in the Platte River system; but this use should be significantly curtailed, perhaps by as much as fifty percent, when North Platte River flows are below normal. And it should not be assumed that the system would not respond in time for such a reduction to provide substantive streamflow benefits. Modeling results using the modified models, as described earlier, show that a substantial reduction in streamflow depletions occurs in as little as five years from the onset of reduced pumping. Because most droughts often continue for several years; and because Lake McConaughy and other reservoirs have the ability to sustain downstream users for the first several years of a drought; restrictions on well pumping within the North Platte NRD at the onset of a drought will reduce streamflow depletions within time to be of benefit to the water-short system. The IMP should contain mechanisms designed to reduce well water use during times of shortage, such as reducing by half the allocation or that number of irrigated acres at times when North Platte River flows drop below 800,000 acre-feet per year.

    Along with this testimony, Central also submits the following items:

    Exhibit 1; “Analysis of Depletions to the North Platte River”, 2009, by Lytle Water Solutions, LLC; giving results of water budget and groundwater modeling analyses; describing adjustments made to the COHYST models to address previously identified issues with those models; estimating streamflow depletions caused by wells in the North Platte NRD; and also estimating reductions in streamflow depletions that can be achieved through reductions in pumping.

    Exhibit 2; “Water Rights Audit”, 2008, by The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District; summarizing Central’s appropriations for storage, irrigation, power production, underground storage, and the Environmental Account.

    Exhibit 3; “A Report of Preliminary Findings from A Study of Hydrologically Connected Ground and Surface Water and its Contribution to Conflicts between Ground Water Users and Surface Water Appropriators in the North Platte Natural Resources District”, 2004, by the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources.

    Exhibit 4; “Ground Water and Surface Water A Single Resource”, 1998, by the United State Geological Survey.

    Exhibit 5; “An Analysis of the 14-Inch Ground Water Allocation in the Pumpkin Creek Basin”, 2008, by Lytle Water Solutions, LLC.

    Exhibit 6; “Evaluation of the Pumpkin Creek Ground Water Allocation by the North Platte NRD”, 2008, by Lytle Water Solutions, LLC.

    Exhibit 7; “Adverse Effects of Pumpkin Creek Groundwater Pumping on Central District Water Uses”, 2009, by Michael Drain; report prepared for use in the case of Spear T Ranch, Inc. versus Melvin G. Knaub, et. al.; the adverse effects described in the report as caused by pumping in the Pumpkin Creek basin are likewise caused by stream depletions throughout the North Platte NRD.

    Exhibit 8; “Expert Disclosures in Spear T Ranch, Inc. Versus Melvin G. Knaub, Et. Al. Case No. CI03-16”, 2009, by Lytle Water Solutions, LLC.

    Exhibit 9; “Streamflow Declines Caused by Groundwater Development in Pumpkin Creek Basin”, 2002, by Michael Drain.

    Exhibit 10; A 2009 letter from Lytle Water Solutions, LLC describing known issues regarding the COHYST models and evaluating the assumption in the draft IMP that surface-water and co-mingled retirements result in a 100 percent and instantaneous offset to streamflow depletions.

    Exhibit 11; Various documents referenced by the 2009 letter from Lytle Water Solutions, LLC

  • Analysis of Depletions to the North Platte River prepared by Lytle Water Solutions, LLC

  • Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)

    Note:  The following information was provided to The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District by the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources

    March 2005

    FACT SHEET from the United States Department of Agriculture and the Farm Service Agency

    Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
    Nebraska Platte-Republican Resources Area

    Overview

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the State of Nebraska launched a $158 million Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) agreement for the Platte-Republican Resources Area. The Platte-Republican CREP will reduce irrigation water use, improve water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat through establishment of vegetative cover. Saving water will also replenish streams, rivers and reservoirs, and enhance wildlife.

    CREP uses federal and state resources to safeguard environmentally sensitive land through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Land enrolled in CRP is planted primarily to grasses and trees to improve water and soil quality and wildlife habitat. CRP was authorized by the Food Security Act of 1985, as amended. CREP provides rental payments and other financial incentives to encourage producers to enroll voluntarily in 10- to 15-year CRP contracts.

    Benefits

    The Platte-Republican Resources Area CREP will significantly reduce the consumptive use of water for irrigation and the amount of agricultural chemicals and sediment entering waters of the state from agricultural lands and transportation corridors. The reduction of ground and surface water use and of non-point source contaminants, through establishment of permanent vegetative cover, will also enhance associated wildlife habitat, both terrestrial and aquatic.

    Goals

    The goals of the Platte-Republican CREP are to:

    • Reduce the application of water for cropland irrigation in the priority area by 125,000 acre-feet annually from current irrigated usage levels.

    • Increase surface and ground-water retention by a target amount of 85,000 acre-feet of water annually within priority area reservoirs, groundwater tables and streams.

    • Provide up to 15,000 additional acres of conservation buffers and restored wetlands.

    • Reduce the application of commonly used triazine products on crops by approximately 93,000 pounds annually.

    • Reduce leaching of nitrate compounds into project area streams and groundwater by 5,900,000 pounds annually.

    • Reduce the agricultural application of phosphate products by farmers by approximately 2,440,000 pounds annually, when fully enrolled, from existing application rates in the priority area.

    • Assist community public water supplies (surface and groundwater) by reducing nitrogen and phosphorus levels from agricultural activities.

    • Provide educational assistance to project priority area irrigators to develop a more efficient use of applied water, nutrients, and herbicides.

    • Provide up to 85,000 additional acres of native grassland habitat for wildlife in the priority area, increasing the populations of pheasants and other ground nesting birds by 25 percent in the area.

    • Reduce the total consumption of fossil fuels for irrigation by 350,000 gallons and electricity use by 10 million kilowatt hours.

    Program Cost

    The expected combined federal and state obligation is approximately $158 million for optional 10- to 15-year contracts with $122 million coming from FSA and $36 million from Nebraska. This does not include any costs that may be borne by producers.

    Eligible Areas and Eligibility Requirements

    The project area includes the Platte and Republican Rivers and their tributaries in southern and western Nebraska. Producers who are located in the project area and meet the eligibility requirements identified for the Nebraska CREP may be eligible. To find out if your operation is located within the project area, contact your local FSA office.

    To be eligible for CREP, the applicant must also satisfy the basic eligibility criteria for CRP.

    Irrigated and non-irrigated cropland may be eligible for enrollment. For irrigated cropland to be eligible it must meet land eligibility requirements:

    • Cropland that has been cropped 4 out of the 6 years, in 1996-2001.

    • Cropland that is physically and legally capable of being planted in a normal manner to an agricultural commodity and capable of being irrigated when offered for enrollment.

    • A Nebraska State Water Use Contract is entered into between the producer and the State of Nebraska covering the irrigated cropland acres.

    For non-irrigated (dryland) cropland to be eligible for enrollment, the land must meet the above eligibility requirements and be a center-pivot corner enrolled with the adjacent irrigated center-pivot cropland area.

    Approved Conservation Practices

    The following conservation practices may be eligible for land enrolled into the Nebraska Platte-Republican CREP:

    • CP2 – Establishment of Permanent Native Grasses;
    • CP4D – Permanent Wildlife Habitat;
    • CP21 – Filter Strips;
    • CP22 – Riparian Buffer;
    • CP23 – Wetland Restoration;
    • CP23A – Wetland Restoration, Non-Floodplain;
    • CP25 – Rare and Declining Habitat.

    Acreage Limitations

    For the Platte-Republican CREP, enrollment is permitted for up to 100,000 acres of eligible cropland. Cropland and conservation practice limitations are:

    • CP2, CP4D, and CP25: up to 85,000 acres;
    • CP21 and CP22: up to 10,000 acres;
    • CP23 and CP23A: up to 5,000 acres.

    For the Republican River Basin Area, up to 50,000 acres may be enrolled.

    For the Platte River Basin Area, up to 50,000 acres may be enrolled as follows:

    • Up to 40,000 acres may be enrolled in the designated area below lake McConaughy.

    • Up to 10,000 acres may be enrolled in the designated area above Lake McConaughy.

    For the Platte River Basin Area, the 10,000 acres are further divided as:

    • Up to 5,000 acres, served solely by groundwater wells, may be enrolled.

    • Up to 5,000 acres, served by either groundwater wells and/or surface water allocation, may be enrolled.

    Sign-up and Contract Duration

    Sign-up for the CREP will be announced later by the state and will continue until enrollment goals are attained, or through Dec. 31, 2007, whichever comes first. Land enrolled in the program remains under contract for a period of 10 to 15 years, as specified in the contract.

    Applicants must generally have owned or operated the land for at least 12 months prior to enrollment. Persons with an existing CRP contract or an approved offer with a contract pending are ineligible for CREP until that contract expires.

    CREP Payments

    Nebraska CREP participants may be eligible for the following payments from USDA:

    • Annual rental payments based on irrigated rental rates for each eligible enrolled irrigated acre in which a State Water Use Contract has already been secured.

    • Annual rental payments based on dryland cropland rental rates for each eligible enrolled dryland crop acre.

    • Cost-share payments for 50 percent of the eligible reimbursable costs for establishment of approved conservation practices.

    • A one-time Signing Incentive Payment of $10 for each eligible acre enrolled for each full year of the contract for practices CP21 and CP22. For example, 10-year CRP contract would receive $100/ acre payment.

    • A one-time Practice Incentive Payment equal to 40 percent of the total eligible cost of practice installation for practices CP21 and CP22.

    • A one-time incentive payment equal to 25 percent of the cost of restoring the hydrology of the site for practices CP23 and CP23A.

    CREP and CRP

    CREP is not the only option that farmers may select to enhance their land; applicants may still enroll in the general CRP or continuous CRP. However, CREP provides additional benefits not available through the general and/or continuous CRP.

    For More Information

    For more information on the Nebraska CREP, contact your local FSA office. Additional information is also available on FSA’s Web site at: www.fsa.usda.gov.

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    QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS from the United States Department of Agriculture and the Farm Service Agency

    Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
    Nebraska Platte-Republican Resources Area

    1. What is the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program?

    The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is a Federal-State natural resource conservation program that addresses State and nationally significant agricultural-related environmental problems. Under CREP, program participants receive financial incentives from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) to voluntarily enroll in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) in contracts of 10 to 15 years. Participants remove cropland and marginal pastureland from agricultural production and convert the land to native grasses, trees and other vegetation. CRP is authorized by the Food Security Act of 1985, as amended.

    2. What is the Nebraska Platte-Republican Resources Area CREP?

    The Platte-Republican Resources Area CREP will help farmers conserve water quantity of the designated rivers and streams, reduce the consumptive use of surface and subsurface irrigation water, and enhance water quality and wildlife habitat by establishing permanent vegetative cover to reduce agricultural chemical and sediment runoff.

    3. What are the potential benefits of the Nebraska Platte-Republican Resources Area CREP?

    The Platte-Republican Resources Area CREP will significantly reduce the amount of consumptive water use for irrigation and the amount of agricultural chemicals and sediment entering the state’s waters. The reduction of ground and surface water use and of non-point source contaminants, through establishment of permanent vegetative cover, will also enhance associated wildlife habitat, both terrestrial and aquatic.

    4. What are the goals?

    The goals of the Nebraska Platte- Republican Resources Area CREP are to:

    • Reduce the application of water for cropland irrigation in the priority area by 125,000 acre-feet annually from current irrigated usage levels.

    • Increase surface and ground- water retention by a target amount of 85,000 acre-feet of water annually within priority area reservoirs, groundwater tables and streams.

    • Provide up to 85,000 additional acres of native grassland habitat for wildlife in the priority area, increasing the populations of pheasants and other ground-nesting birds by 25 percent in the area.

    • Provide up to 15,000 additional acres of conservation buffers and restored wetlands.

    • Reduce the application of triazine products by approximately 93,000 pounds annually.

    • Reduce leaching of nitrate compounds into project area streams and groundwater by 5,900,000 pounds annually.

    • Reduce the application of phosphate products by approximately 2,440,000 pounds annually.

    • Protect community public water supplies (surface and groundwater) by reducing nitrogen and phosphorus levels from agricultural activities.

    • Provide educational assistance to project priority area irrigators to develop a more efficient use of applied water, nutrients, and herbicides.

    • Reduce the total consumption of fossil fuels for irrigation by 350,000 gallons and electricity use by 10 million kilowatt hours.

    5. What are eligible areas and land eligibility requirements?

    Landowners can offer for enrollment in CREP eligible cropland adjacent to waterways within the Platte-Republican Resources Area.

    To be eligible, cropland must meet cropping history criteria and be physically and legally capable of being cropped in a normal manner.

    Persons who have acreage under an existing CRP contract or an approved offer with a contract pending are ineligible for CREP on that acreage until that contract expires. Other requirements will also apply. Interested producers should contact their local FSA county office for specific information regarding their eligibility for CREP.

    With regard to the Platte-Republican Resources Area CREP, irrigated and non-irrigated land may be eligible for enrollment. For irrigated land to be eligible, it must be:

    • Irrigated cropland that has been cropped (a minimum of ½ acre foot/year) 4 out of the 6 years, 1996-2001;

    • Irrigated cropland that is physically and legally capable of being irrigated in a normal manner when offered for enrollment; and

    • A Nebraska State Water Use Contract is entered into between the producer and the State of Nebraska covering the irrigated cropland acres. USDA does not control, regulate or impact water rights.

    For non-irrigated (dryland) cropland to be eligible for enrollment, the land must be a center-pivot corner enrolled with the adjacent irrigated center-pivot cropland area.

    To find out if your operation is located within the project area, contact your local FSA office.

    To be eligible for CREP, the applicant must also satisfy the basic eligibility criteria for CRP.

    6. When is the sign-up and how long does land remain under contract?

    Sign-up for the CREP will begin April 4, 2005, and will continue until enrollment goals are met, or through December 31, 2007, whichever comes first.

    Land enrolled in the program remains under contract for a period of 10 to 15 years, as specified in the contract.

    7. What conservation measures are approved for the CREP?

    To better serve program goals, the following CRP conservation practices are approved for the Nebraska Platte-Republican Resources Area CREP:

    • CP2 – Establishment of Permanent Native Grasses
    • CP4D – Permanent Wildlife Habitat
    • CP21 – Filter Strips
    • CP22 – Riparian Buffer
    • CP23 – Wetland Restoration
    • CP23A – Wetland Restoration, Non-Floodplain
    • CP25 – Rare and Declining Habitat

    8. What payments is FSA offering?

    Subject to contract terms and certain limitations, Platte-Republican Resources Area CREP participants will be eligible for the following types of FSA payments:

    • Annual rental payments based on irrigated rental rates for each eligible enrolled irrigated acre in which a State Water Use Contract has been secured.

    • Annual rental payments based on dryland cropland rental rates for each eligible enrolled dryland crop acre.

    • A one-time Signing Incentive Payment of $10 for each eligible acre enrolled for each full year of the contract for practices CP21 and CP22. A 10-year contract would receive $100 per acre.

    • A one-time Practice Incentive Payment equal to 40 percent of the total eligible cost of practice installation for practices CP21 and CP22.

    • A one-time incentive payment equal to 25 percent of the cost of restoring the hydrology of the site for practices CP23 and CP23A.

    9. What is the cost of the program?

    The total cost over a 15-year period is estimated at $158 million, with FSA contributing $122 million and the Nebraska and local partners funding $36 million. The $158 million does not include any costs that may be assumed by producers.

    10. Can I still enroll in general CRP and continuous sign-up CRP?

    Yes. CREP is another option under CRP that farmers may select to enhance their land; applicants may still enroll eligible land in the general CRP or continuous sign-up CRP. However, CREP provides additional benefits not available through the general and/or continuous sign-up. For instance, CREP payments are at a higher effective rate.

    11. Can I hay or graze my CREP land?

    Haying and grazing are not permitted during the CRP contract period unless FSA allows them for emergency or managed haying and grazing purposes, if applicable, under normal CRP rules.

    12. The Nebraska Platte-Republican CREP encompasses what areas?

    Seven Natural Resource Districts and portions of two river basins with a portion of the following 22 counties: Buffalo, Franklin, Gosper, Kearney, Nuckolls, Sioux, Chase, Frontier, Harlan, Keith, Phelps, Webster, Dawson, Furnas, Hayes, Lincoln, Red Willow, Dundy, Garden, Hitchcock, Morrill, and Scotts Bluff.

    13. Where can I get more information?

    More information on the Nebraska Platte-Republican Resources Area CREP is available at local USDA Service Centers and on FSA’s Web site at: www.fsa.usda.gov.

  • Cooperative Programs for Water Management

    Man can do little to alter the water cycle — that endless process of precipitation, evaporation, and condensation — so our primary supply of available water is firmly more or less fixed. But we can manage and conserve water as it becomes available.

    Water’s value is well understood in Nebraska, as are the consequences of inadequate supplies. Since agriculture in Nebraska requires a large amount of water, several Chlorophyll meteragencies with water management responsibilities have developed programs and services to help improve the efficiency with which our water resources are utilized.

    The following are some of the programs and services available to agricultural water users in the Central District’s area designed to help protect and extend our water supply.

    COOPERATING AGENCIES

    • The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District
    • Tri-Basin Natural Resources District
    • University of Nebraska-Lincoln Cooperative Extension
    • U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service

    SERVICES PROVIDED

    On-Farm Demonstrations:

    • Irrigation management – When and how much water to apply; determining the amount of water stored in the soil.

    • Nutrient management – Use of chlorophyll meters, fertigation, and split applications of nutrients.

    • Quality of runoff water – Analysis of runoff water for the presence of pesticides and nutrients.

    Irrigation Scheduling:

    • Weather stations gathering data on water use by agricultural crops and lawns.Low-pressure sprinkler

    • Water use broadcasts on area television stations and crop water use hotline (308) 995-8581.

    Irrigation Well and Gated Pipe Measurements with Ultrasonic Flow Meters:

    • Determine flow rates through gated pipe and system losses from leaky gates and gaskets.

    Irrigation System Evaluations:

    • Delivery systems.

    • Center pivot evaluations.

    Educational Services:

    • Nitrogen certification program.Ultrasonic flow meter

    • Pesticide certification program.

    • Demonstration site field days.

    • “Water Jamboree” for school children.

    • “Conservation Days” for area 7th and 8th grade students.

    Center Pivot Chemigation Inspections:

    Agency Support —

    • Irrigation inventory of irrigated acres, types of systems, number of pivots, surge valves, reuse pits, wells, etc., in Kearney, Phelps and Gosper Counties.

    • Area agronomists/crop consultants serve as a source of information for local agencies to develop and analyze trends, budgets, and cost-share needs.

    Financial Assistance for Irrigation Conservation Practices provided through:

    • Tri-Basin Natural Resources District’s Nebraska Soil & Water Conservation Program.Pivot pump site

    • Farm Service Agency’s Agricultural Conservation Program.

    • Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Great Plains Conservation Program.

    • The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District’s Conservation Policies.

    Partial funding for these services provided by:

    • Clean Water Act — Environmental Protection Agency 319 Grant.

    • Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund Grant.

    • U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Challenge Grant.

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    For more information about Cooperative Water Management Programs in the Central District’s area, contact any of the above agencies or CNPPID Conservation Director Marcia Trompke at (308) 995-8601.

  • Notice to Central District Employees

    The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District’s Group Health Plan, Flexible Spending Plan and Medicare Supplement Plan

    Notice of Privacy Practices

    THIS NOTICE DESCRIBES HOW PROTECTED MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT EMPLOYEES MAY BE USED AND DISCLOSED AND HOW EMPLOYEES CAN GAIN ACCESS TO THIS INFORMATION. PLEASE REVIEW IT CAREFULLY.

    1. The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District’s Group Health Plan, Flexible Spending Plan and Medicare Supplement Plan (Central District’s Group Health Plans) is permitted to make uses and disclosures of protected health information for treatment, payment and health care operations, as described in the following examples:

    a. For treatment – Authorization for treatments not specifically covered in the Hospital/Medical and Dental Benefit Plan.

    b. For payment – Claim status assistance.

    c. For health care operations – Eligibility or Enrollment/Termination Purposes.

    2. The Central District’s Group Health Plans are permitted or required, under specific circumstances, to use or disclose protected health information without the individual’s written authorization. If a use or disclosure for any purpose prescribed in the Privacy Regulation is prohibited or materially limited by other applicable State law, the description of such use or disclosure must reflect the more stringent law.

    3. Other uses and disclosures will be made only with the Individual’s written authorization, and the individual may revoke such authorization.

    4. The Central District’s Group Health Plans may disclose protected health information to the sponsor of the Plan.

    5. The Individual has the following rights regarding protected health information:

    a. The right to request restrictions on certain uses and disclosures of protected health information. The Central District’s Group Health Plans are not required to agree to a requested restriction, however.

    b. The right to receive confidential communications of protected health information, as applicable.

    c. The right to inspect and copy protected health information, as provided in the Privacy Regulation.

    d. The right to amend protected health information, as provided in the Privacy Regulation.

    e. The right to receive an accounting of disclosures of protected health information.

    f. The right to obtain a paper copy of the Notice from the covered entity upon request. This right extends to an individual who has agreed to receive the Notice electronically.

    6. The Central District’s Group Health Plans are required by law to maintain the privacy of protected health information and to provide individuals with notice of its legal duties and Privacy practices with respect to protected health information.

    7. The Central District’s Group Health Plans are required to abide by the terms of the Notice currently in effect.

    8. The Central District’s Group Health Plans reserve the right to change the terms of this Notice. The new Notice provisions will be effective for all protected health information that it maintains.

    9. The Central District’s Group Health Plans will provide individuals with a revised Notice by posting it on the Web site and making copies available via interoffice mail.

    10. Individuals may complain to the Central District’s Group Health Plans and to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, without fear of retaliation by the organization, if they believe their privacy rights have been violated. A brief description of how the individual may file a complaint follows:

    When a privacy violation is discovered, an individual must file a written report with the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District’s complaint officer. A report form can be obtained by contacting the complaint officer. The report, and any action taken, will be documented and appropriately filed with the privacy manual.

    11. The Central District’s Group Health Plans’ contact person for matters relating to complaints is:

    Assistant Controller
    (308) 995-8601
    415 Lincoln Street
    P.O. Box 740
    Holdrege, NE 68949

    12. This Notice is first in effect on April 14, 2004.