Central Platte NRD has a total of 1,029,213 irrigated acres of which 937,674 acres are groundwater only; 14,359 acres are surface water only and 77,180 acres are a co-mingled use. The overall irrigated acres base increased 12,624 acres, in part to acres still being certified, two years of additional acres being added east of Chapman, NE; and because of the transfer process, which allows for the consumptive use of water to be changed, without causing an increase in depletions to the river or an impact to existing surface water or groundwater users.
All irrigated acres are certified, including variances and water bank transactions. In 2006, CPNRD began certifying irrigated acres by mailing out packets to landowners who live in Custer, Dawson, and Frontier counties. To ensure accuracy, landowners were provided aerial maps and the number of acres CPNRD had on record as irrigated taken from infrared imagery. Landowners who appealed the number of acres were required to obtain records from their local FSA office; including an aerial photo and a printout of irrigated land. Most changes made were >10 acres while 1/3 of the fields determined as irrigated needed no changes. The deadline to certify irrigated acres was December 31, 2014. Irrigation violation letters were mailed to 12 landowners in 2019.
CPNRD allows an average of 120 transfers each year. Each transfer results in no net increase in stream depletions when computed using the CIR offset calculator developed from COHYST. In 2007, CPNRD launched the first irrigation certification website in the state, developed by GIS Workshop. It allows public access to scanned documents to show the number of irrigated acres for landowners in the District, infrared imagery taken by CPNRD, & all registered wells. Users may search for specific parcels of land by using the clickable map interface or by searching the site by landowner/tenant name, legal description, or field ID number. The site allows landowners to view/print aerial photos to show how their land has developed since 2003 and view any improvements made. The website was overhauled in 2011 and again in 2015 to add new search options, access drawing tools to create proposed transfer maps, and print maps. The public and staff sites are linked, so all information is simultaneous. Website: cpnrd.gisworkshop.com
Staff verifies and corrects well registrations within the NRD. Under Neb Rev Stat. §46-254, 263, & 266; wells that aren’t properly registered are “illegal wells” and considered a Class 4 criminal misdemeanor violation. The penalty is a $100-$500 fine/conviction. Another consequence is a court order to discontinue pumping. Often wells are part of property inventory when ownership changes hands and it becomes the new property owner’s responsibility to verify the registration. The Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (NeDNR) charges a $110 fee to register each well, whether it is newly dug or is an existing well that has never been previously registered. There is no charge from the CPNRD or the state to correct locations or change ownership information.