“Our Board is just one step away from being able to adopt a revised set of rules related to water use,” says High Plains Water District (HPWD) Board President Lynn Tate of Amarillo.
“Before we ratify these changes, we want the public to comment and weigh in on the proposed Rule 5. As always, our top priorities throughout this process have been to conserve water and to protect private property rights,” he said.
HPWD has encouraged input to the rules writing process since the project began in November of last year.
“We worked with commodity groups, individual crop and livestock growers, our District’s County Advisory Committees, municipal users, city managers and others as we sought to understand every perspective on these rules,” Tate reports. “Now that we have the rules drafted, we’ll seek final input from the community through the summer.”
In an effort to promote conservation of underground water resources without intruding on private property rights, the proposed Rule 5 accommodates a wide variety of approaches in crop and livestock production.
The Board believes the proposed Rule 5 will further the management goals for all the aquifers in the District. The Rule includes an Allowable Production Rate for wells, groundwater reserve provisions, and recording and reporting options.
A draft of the complete proposed Rule 5 document is available at http://www.hpwd.com/rules-and-management-plan/draft-proposed-hpwd-rule-5
According to Tate, the Board is also taking a look at the broader rules document, which includes definitions and provisions related to other aspects of the District’s mission. HPWD rules were last amended November 12, 2013.
“As a board, we’re eager to fulfill the mission of the water district and the vision of the 10-Year Amended Management Plan with rules that provide a reasonable and practical framework for water users. We’re glad we’ve taken the time we have with Rule 5 and will be deliberate as we consider the other provisions in our Rules,” Tate concludes.
Created in 1951 by local residents and the Texas Legislature, the High Plains Water District is charged with conserving, preserving, protecting and preventing waste of groundwater within its 16-county service area.
HIGHLIGHTS OF PROPOSED REVISIONS TO HPWD RULE 5
• Allowable Production Rate –
o Beginning January 1, 2015, the allowable production rate per contiguous acre will be 1.50 acre-feet (18”) per year.
o A contiguous acre may be counted only 1 time.
• Conservation Reserve –
o A well owner or operator may reserve all or a portion of their annual Allowable Production Rate by adhering to prescribed application and reporting requirements. Beginning on January 1, 2015, eligible well owners or operators shall have an initial groundwater reserve of 0.50 acre feet (6”) per acre.
• Recording and Reporting by Owner or Operator –
Options include but are not limited to:
o Meters measuring aggregate production from well systems, individual wells, sprinklers or drip systems.
o One Irrigated Crop planted and harvested in a calendar year. Conservation cover crops are allowed. Second crops are allowable in case of crop loss to weather.
o Energy Consumption Records.
o Nozzle Packages measuring flow rates and hours of use.
o Alternative data gathering devices such as PivoTrac, AgSense or WagNet.
o CAFO multiplier formula based on gallons per head per day.
o Contiguous acres with production rates of less than .93 gallons per minute per acre will be deemed unable to exceed the Allowable Production Rate. Once verified by the District, they are exempt from reporting.
o Other reporting methods may be considered through an application process.
• Optional Meter Installation and Sealing
o If any owner or operator chooses to report through the use of meters, they will be responsible for the purchase, installation, operation, maintenance and repair of meters associated with a well or well system. Meter readings shall be recorded and groundwater production reported as required by District Rules.
o District staff may inspect and seal meters.
• Production Reports
o Meter readings or readings from alternative measuring methods must be recorded prior to January 15 of each year and be included in the District-approved production report submitted to the District no later than March 1 of each calendar year.