New Groundwater Rules Approved for Portion of Platte County

The Lower Loup Natural Resources District has enacted a higher level of groundwater management for an area northeast of Columbus.  The unanimous vote, creating the District’s second water quality subarea, came at the LLNRD’s monthly board meeting January 23rd.

Phase III groundwater management was triggered by high nitrate readings in the area, now known as Water Quality SubArea 30.  Readings as high as 48 parts per million (ppm), well above the federal limit of 10 ppm, have been consistently found in the Lower Loup NRD’s on-going water sampling data. 

Prior to the Board vote on creation of the subarea, the Lower Loup NRD held an informational meeting and a public hearing in Columbus.  There was no public testimony presented at the hearing.

LLNRD Water Quality SubArea 30

Phase III management will include a requirement for flow meters on all irrigation wells, certification classes for all nitrogen applicators, no fall or winter fertilizer applications, split application of fertilizer in the spring, annual soil and water sample requirements, inhibitor use requirements, and annual reporting of fertilizer use and yields.

Spring application of commercial nitrogen fertilizer requires split application, pre- and post-emergence. If over half is applied as a pre-emergent, a labeled inhibitor is required.  Certification from the dealer that the inhibitor was used at the recommended rate is necessary as well. In cases where less than 80 pounds of actual nitrogen is applied, the inhibitor is not required.

A water analysis and deep soils analysis for nitrogen content are annual requirements. The water analysis is needed for all wells irrigating corn, soybeans, sorghum, or potatoes.  The soils analysis is required for all fields planted to those same crops.  The NRD requires a report each year prior to January 31.  Laboratory reports for soil and water analyses are required attachments.

To implement the flow meter requirement, the LLNRD Board approved a flow meter cost share program.  It will offer 100% cost share in year one, 75% in year two and 50% in year three.  After three years, flow meters will be a requirement for all irrigation wells in the area.

Landowners and producers in SubArea 30 will be notified of the updated requirements for the new management area.