New rules for northeast Nebraska irrigators - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

New rules for northeast Nebraska irrigators

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District board approved new irrigation rules. The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District board approved new irrigation rules.

Farmers in some parts of northeast Nebraska will have new irrigation restrictions placed on them starting this year.  

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) board approved new irrigation rules for parts of Madison, Pierce and Wayne Counties at its meeting in Norfolk Thursday night.  The new rules prohibit any new irrigated acres as well as off-season irrigation. The rules also carry mandatory educational requirements and force irrigators to install groundwater measuring equipment to monitor water levels. In addition, irrigators in Madison County, as well as throughout Wayne County, will have limits as to how much water they can use for irrigation annually.

The new regulations came about after months of hearings and discussion and both board members and irrigators say they believe the new rules are an acceptable compromise.

"We're trying to do the best with the knowledge we have, and we're trying to be fair to everyone," says Michael Krueger, a member of the LENRD board.  "I hope that this solves some of the problems. It's never going to solve everything."

"I think our voices were heard," says Aaron Zimmerman, a Pierce county farmer.  "There was a lot of give and take, and I think we worked out a plan that's going to work for everybody."

Domestic users are also required to dig their wells to a satisfactory depth as part of the new rules.

The LENRD Board asked staff to come up with new rules after receiving hundreds of complaints this past summer of domestic wells going dry on land adjacent to irrigated acres.  The board has the ability to revisit the restrictions annually and make adjustments as they see fit.

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