Irrigation concerns brought on by drought focus of public hearin - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Irrigation concerns brought on by drought focus of public hearing

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More than 300 people packed a room in Norfolk, Nebraska for the final public hearing over the groundwater debate.

Because last summer's drought drained a lot of wells, the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District is considering new regulations for irrigation management.

More than 100 people in Madison, Pierce and Wayne counties say their wells went dry because of farmers irrigating adjacent fields.

The board is considering requiring flow meters, setting maximum irrigation amounts and restricting new irrigated acres.

Many irrigators requested that the N-R-D include a sunset clause in any new regulations.

Ryan Zimmerman, an irrigator from Pierce, Nebraska said, "We want there to be flexibility. So that way, if they do want to make any revisions or change it or we find out in the future that we've corrected a lot of these problems, that the local board here can correct it."

NRD board members say a sunset clause is something that they've talked about and have heard the call for concern.

Rod Zessin, Chair, Lower Elkhorn NRD said, "I think there will be some discussions on the board and on the staff whether that a particular measure that we move forward or not. It would be too early for me to say one way or the other."

Irrigators also say it may be getting too late to install flow meters since planting season is about 90 days away.

Domestic well users who testified say the lack of water is racking up big bills, causing many of them to invest thousands in new wells dug much deeper.

An NRD sub-committee will meet Monday night to discuss the proposed regulations before giving their ruling on January 24th.

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