From the Republican River Water Conservation District (Deb Daniel):
The Republican River Water Conservation District (RRWCD) acting through its Water Activity Enterprise will again partner with NRCS to encourage water conservation through the Ogallala Aquifer Initiative (OAI). The RRWCD will provide incentives to producers that voluntarily implement certain water conservation measures. Last year the RRWCD teamed up with NRCS on this program and provided $510,000 to convert approximately five hundred ten acres (510 acres) from irrigated to dryland agriculture or grassland.
This year the District has expanded their participation in the program and will also provide funding along with the NRCS incentives on short-term irrigation rotations, and certain water management improvements such as soil moisture monitoring systems, weather stations, and conversion from sprinkler irrigation to an underground drip irrigation system.
In addition to the NRCS incentives, the RRWCD will provide between six hundred ($600.00) and one thousand two hundred dollars ($1,200.00) depending on the location of the well. In addition to the permanent well retirement practice, the District will be providing incentives to eligible producers that enter into short –term (1 -3 years) rotations from irrigated cropland to dryland cropping practices. Priorities have been established to focus RRWCD funding in areas that provides the highest level of credit for Colorado in the Republican River Compact.
Recent research has suggested that high capacity wells can reduce water consumption by as much as twenty percent (20%) in some cases, with little or no effect on the overall profitability of that particular well. To supplement NRCS incentives the RRWCD has earmarked fifty thousand dollars ($50,000.00) to producers who wish to continue to irrigate, but agree to reduce pumping by at least ten percent (10%) using water conservation measures such as weather stations, soil moisture monitoring and conversion from sprinkler irrigation to an underground drip system. More efficient irrigation systems can contribute substantially to prolonging the life of the aquifer, while maintaining a strong irrigated agricultural economy.
The RRWCD has consulted with groundwater management districts, the Water Preservation Partnership, and others to develop strategies to assist producers through financial incentives to voluntarily reduce water consumption. Several surveys distributed throughout the District to producers have indicated that voluntary, incentive based practices were preferred over regulatory water restrictions. The OAI provides yet another voluntary incentive based tool that all producers can use to help prolong the life of this aquifer. It is important that each and every irrigated agriculture producer evaluate their individual irrigation practices and determine if they can help reduce their impact on the aquifer by implementing one or more of these water conservation practices.