MIDDLE NIOBRARA NATURAL RESOURCES DISTRICT ORDER ADOPTING THE VOLUNTARY INTEGRATED MANAGEMENT PLAN AND ASSOCIATED GROUND WATER CONTROLS JOINTLY DEVELOPED BY THE MIDDLE NIOBRARA NATURAL RESOURCES DISTRICT AND THE NEBRASKA DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

Background:

1. On January 15, 2015, the Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District (District) submitted to the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (Department) a letter of intent to develop a voluntary Integrated Management Plan (IMP).  On February 4, 2015, the Department submitted a letter to the District, agreeing with the intent to jointly develop a voluntary IMP with the District.

2. The District and the Department consulted on the development of the voluntary IMP with a group of stakeholders. The stakeholder group consisted of the statutorily required and other entities that were identified by the District and the Department to be included in the group. On November 27, 2018, the District and the Department jointly held a public meeting, to solicit public comments and opinions regarding the voluntary IMP. The meeting was publicly noticed in area newspapers and on the District and Department websites. The members of the stakeholder group were invited to attend the meeting. Through this process of consultation, the District and the Department jointly developed a voluntary IMP in accordance with the Ground Water Management and Protection Act (the Act), particularly, Neb. Rev. Stat.  §§ 46-715, 46-716, 46-717, and 46-718.

3. On August 13, 2020, the District and the Department reached agreement on (a) the proposed goals and objectives of the voluntary IMP, (b) the proposed geographic area to be subject to the controls of the voluntary IMP, and (c) the surface water controls and ground water controls that are proposed for adoption and implementation in the voluntary IMP.

4. On September 14, 2020, pursuant to notices published in accordance with Neb. Rev. Stat.  § 46-743, the District and the Department jointly held a public hearing in Valentine, Nebraska on the proposed voluntary IMP. Formal oral testimony by one member of the public was received.

5. Following the public hearing, the District and the Department jointly considered the testimony and jointly agreed to adopt the voluntary IMP with no revisions.

6. On October 9, 2020, the District’s Board of Directors voted to accept the draft voluntary IMP as presented at the September 14 public hearing as the final draft.

7. On November 9, 2020, the District sent the Department a letter agreeing to the final draft voluntary IMP.

8. On November 13, 2020, the Department sent a letter to the District agreeing to adopt the proposed voluntary IMP and associated surface water controls.

Groundwater Controls Adopted

1. The groundwater controls included in the voluntary IMP are as follows:

a. Limit on the expansion of irrigated acres. 

The District will establish a set number of new irrigated acres which can be applied for on an annual basis, consistent with Neb. Rev.Stat. § 46-715(4). The new acres will meet a minimum score set by the Board.  The District will set the number of new irrigated acres for each year by June 30 and notify the Department within 30 days.  Applications for new irrigated acres will be accepted, the District will then rank the applications and notify the Department of approved irrigated acres and their locations by October 

Order

It is therefore ORDERED that the voluntary IMP, jointly developed by the Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District and the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, and the groundwater controls in the plan are hereby ADOPTED by the District and will become effective on December 30, 2020. A copy of the full text of the voluntary IMP including the controls may be obtained at the office of the Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District. 303 E. Hwy 20, Valentine, NE. 69201, and on its website at www.mnnrd.org.

Published: December 9, December 16 & December 23, 2020