Allocation remains at 65 inches over next five years

Irrigators in the Upper Republican Natural Resources district apparently have no issues with the latest rules adopted by the board. 

No public testimony was offered during the public hearing on the rule proposals May 8. As a result, the board passed the new rules and regulations unanimously. 

The fact that the next five-year allocation will remain the same as the last five years represents a primary reason why the new proposal drew no input or opposition.

In the new rules, the board addressed rules on transfers of allocation as well. 

5-year, 65-inch allocation

Irrigators will again have a base allocation of 65 inches of consumptive use over the next five years. While that equates to an annual amount of 13 inches, irrigators can use more or less in any particular year.

The irrigator can exceed the allocation up to 7.5 inches in the allocation period, provided they have carryforward on the respective tracts.

If they exceed the 7.5-inch benchmark, they will be penalized two inches of carryforward for every inch over 7.5 inches of use. 

If there is no carryforward remaining on the offending tract, then the base allocation will be reduced on a two-for-one basis for each inch over 65 inches. 

A provision allows the irrigator to regain that allocation if they reduce pumping over the next five years. 

The rules strike the definition of quick response area, which was defined as an area within 2.5 miles of any stream or river. 

Instead, the amount of streamflow depletion attributed to a tract defines what is known as the rapid response area. Distance from a stream or river is no longer the defining factor.

The rules also provide an allocation of 10 acre feet for industrial wells and 40 acre feet for commercial wells. Additional allocation will only be granted if it is fully offset elsewhere in the district. 

Rule follows current practice

Over the last several years, the board has been approving transfers of allocation from one tract to another under an existing transfer rule. 

What the board did in this year’s rules and regs proposal is put into policy what they have already been doing. 

The first change clarifies that allocation can be transferred from one pool to another when a change of ownership occurs. A pool is defined when an irrigator combines allocations so that it can be used on any of the acres in the pool.

The rule also clarifies the requirements when transferring allocation more than six miles from the donor site. 

The rule requires the receiving tract to have a lower streamflow depletion factor than the donor acres. 

Streamflow depletion typically drops when pumping is moved away from the vicinity of streams and rivers. 

The transfer of allocation must be made to a tract with certified irrigated acres that has no allocation, or; transfer an amount allocation that does not exceed 125 percent of the allocation on the receiving tract.

Jasper Fanning, URNRD manager, said this provision was added to avoid stacking allocation on the receiving tract. That means the 13-inch allocation on the receiving tract can only be increased another 25 percent to 16.25 inches, per actual irrigated acre, as a result of the transfer.  

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