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South Platte NRD Honors Retiring Members



Tom Biggs, left, and Paul Hutchison were honored at the December board meeting for their service to the South Platte Natural Resources District. The retiring board members helped lead the District for a cumulative 35 years.

The South Platte Natural Resources District board of directors closed out its final meeting of 2014 by bidding farewell to a pair of retiring long term members.

Directors Paul Hutchison and Tom Biggs attended their last meeting as part of a board that established most of the District's water management rules and regulations during their tenures. Both were board members when LB 962, the Nebraska Ground Water Management and Protection Act, was passed by the Nebraska Legislature. The resulting Districtwide Ground Water Management Area Rules and Regulations and the District's Integrated Management Plan that serve as the backbone of the District's ground water management were major achievements.

Following a brief recognition ceremony where they were given plaques and heard resolutions passed in their honor, board members reminisced about long meetings involved in those processes.

Hutchison has served the District since 1995, while Biggs has been on the board since 1999.

Potential changes to the Districtwide Ground Water Management Area Rules and Regulations (DWGWMARR) and the IMP were introduced as part of the meeting, leading up to hearings in February and March. A number of changes are housekeeping items, although others are more substantive.

In the overview, General Manager Rod Horn highlighted several items, including a plan to integrate the District's chemigation rules and permit application fee schedule into the DWGWMARR. Due to changes in state law, chemigation rules will be changing and with such changes, Horn feels folding the rules together will streamline their availability.

Another change being considered is a requirement on irrigation replacement wells. Currently, replacement wells must not be any larger (by pumping capacity) than the well they replace. Horn said, however, that with allocations limiting the amount of water being pumped for irrigation it may not make a difference what size the well is.

In accordance with another change in state law, another proposed change is the inclusion of application fees for variance requests. The new law provides for application fees to help cover costs associated with such requests.

The board also received its audit report from Rauner and Associates, a report that indicated the District's is in solid condition financially and there are no compliance issues in its bookkeeping or management practices.

As a tax-supported entity, the District is audited annually. It received an "Unqualified" rating, the best given in such reviews.

In other business the board:

Received a report on the Oliver Reservoir Advisory Committee, which is currently in the process of setting short and long term goals for the area. The group plans to have those plans laid out by March.

Heard an update on the East Sidney Watershed Project. Project leaders are waiting to hear on funding sources for work which will provide water quality and flood protection to areas of southeast Sidney. Once funding is identified, design and engineering work can begin.

Approved an action to allow the decommissioning of six abandoned water wells owned and formerly operated by the Nebraska Department of Roads.


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