By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
Three potential sites for Republican River Basin augmentation projects have emerged after several years of study.
Natural resources districts (NRDs) in the basin got a look during the Lower Republican NRD earlier this month.
The Upper Republican NRD will be briefed on the plan at their Feb. 1 meeting.
Chris Miller, an engineer with the consulting firm, Miller & Associates of Kearney, said their studies have identified three potential sites–near Farnam, Upland and Hastings.
At the Farnam and Upland sites, well fields would be drilled on acquired property, with the pumping being transferred into the Republican River.
Miller said the Farnam project in the Middle Republican NRD would require 51 miles of pipe to get to the river. He noted the water could be piped for 32.5 miles and then dropped into the Muddy Creek for delivery to the river near Holbrook.
He said wells running 24 hours a day/seven days a week would generate 11,291 acre-feet of water to the river. This water could be used for reaching compact compliance with Kansas.
The firm estimated construction cost of the fully-piped project at $46.9 million. If water was dropped into Muddy Creek, eliminating about 20 miles of pipe, the cost estimate drops to $31.7 million.
For the full project, the cost of water per acre/foot delivered would be $4,156.
Projected costs included land acquisition, pipe, valves and other contingencies.
The Upland pumping location in the Lower Republican NRD would be only 31.5 miles to the river, if it was fully piped.
Miller said almost 10 miles of pipe could be cut by delivering the water into Thompson Creek and then into the Republican east of Franklin.
The cost of the fully-piped project was estimated at $31.4 million with a $25.1 million cost if water was piped just to the Thompson Creek.
This project would generate 10,323 acre-feet of water for compliance efforts at a cost of $3,045 per acre foot.
Miller noted the projected costs were only for construction and did not include operation and maintenance costs.
The Hastings project would utilize discharge water already being generated near there and not included in a well field.
This project would require 37 miles of pipe to dump into the Republican between Red Cloud and Guide Rock.
Only four miles of pipe could be saved by dumping the water into the Elm Creek.
This project would only generate about 5,646 acre-feet of water for compliance efforts at a total estimated cost of $27.5 million.
This would result in the highest per-acre-foot cost for water at $4,874.
Miller said they also looked at areas in the Upper Republican NRD but said two key factors came into play.
He said piping of the water would have been much more costly and once that water was delivered, it was not believed that the water could be protected from further downstream use or full credit for compliance.
Upper Republican NRD manager Jasper Fanning said this week the NRDs in the basin will have to start making decisions on their commitment to augmentation options.
The next step in moving forward with the Farnam and/or Upland projects will be to drill monitoring wells before the 2011 pumping season.
The data from the monitoring wells will more accurately represent effects on the area from the pumping.
He said the NRDs have commitment for grant funds to pay for a big share of the monitoring wells.
If that is to happen this year, some decisions will be needed soon.
Last week, Fanning said the URNRD is continuing to look at other options, such as retiring acres as well as its own augmentation projects, to avoid well shutdowns in a water-short year and work toward compliance.