Four natural resources districts in southwest Nebraska will spend $83 million to take 15,000 acres of irrigated farmland out of service, with plans of redirecting groundwater and increasing flows in nearby rivers.
ALMA, Neb. (AP) - The Lower Republican, Upper Republican, Middle Republican and Twin Platte districts plan to increase flows in the Republican and Platte rivers with groundwater that was used to water the land, the Kearney Hub reported (http://bit.ly/SatgjZ ).
The districts approved the plan at a meeting Friday in Alma.
A single farm group owns the land - 10,000 acres in the Republican River basin and 5,000 acres in the Platte River basin. The districts will pay about $5,500 per acre, sharing the cost and spending nearly $21 million apiece.
The Lower Republican district will pay for its share over time, either with long-term financing or by issuing bonds, general manager Mike Clements said. It's not clear if the other districts would use the same funding method.
The river augmentation project for the Republican Basin will involve pumping groundwater into the headwaters of Medicine Creek, a Republican River tributary, in dry years to enhance flows. Clements said when the augmentation isn't needed, the water will be left in the ground.
The land will return to non-irrigated crop production or pasture, Clements said.
The districts probably will own the property for a while, Clements said, but could decide later to sell it while still holding leases for the groundwater.
Information from: Kearney Hub, http://www.kearneyhub.com/
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
(Image courtesy of Stock.xchng)