Ogallala Aquifer Initiative Program Sign-up Deadline July 17th
The Republican River Water Conservation District acting through its Water Activity Enterprise (RRWCD) is partnering with the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) for the purpose of encouraging producers in the Republican River Basin in Colorado to enroll in a voluntary Ogallala Aquifer Initiative (OAI).
This program provides incentives and cost-sharing in a variety of water conservation practices. The RRWCD is partnering with NRCS and offering additional incentives to producers who voluntarily enter their irrigated land into a Permanent Water Retirement Practice. Producers must apply to enroll in this program by July 17, 2015. The short response time is due to the federal fiscal year and the need for NRC to comply with fiscal year end deadlines. The RRWCD must comply with the NRCS sign-up deadline.
The Republican River OAI aims to coordinate federal, state, and local efforts that address specific water conservation practices such as permanent water retirement, soil moisture probes, weather stations and other practices that have a proven water conservation component.
Among the acceptable conservation practices is Permanent Water Retirement. The RRWCD is providing significant incentives to those producers that elect to retire irrigation wells permanently. Land enrolled under the Permanent Well Retirement Practice may be dry land farmed or grazed during and after the term of the contract.
NRCS will provide approximately three hundred sixty ($360.00) per acre for irrigated parcels that are enrolled in the Permanent Water Retirement Practice. Priorities have been established to focus RRWCD funding toward permanent water retirement near three river corridors, the South Fork of the Republican River, the Arikaree River, and the North Fork of the Republican River, but all land in the RRWCD boundary are eligible for the program.
The RRWCD is offering one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) per acre on all acres that enroll in the Permanent Water Retirement Practice. Incentives will follow the above mentioned priorities, with those closest to the river corridors being funded first. Additional incentives may be available from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) for wells that they have targeted along the Arikaree River tributary.
Producers who offer land for enrollment will be ranked using NRCS developed ranking criteria and those enrolling in the program will be required to meet NRC eligibility criteria.
Participants enrolling in any water conservation practice will be required to sign a contract with NRCS and those that elect to enroll in the Permanent Water Retirement Practice will also be required to sign a contract with the RRWCD. Producers participating in the Permanent Water Retirement Practice will also be required to submit an application to the Colorado Division of Water Resources (CDWR) to cancel the affected well permit.
The NRCS and RRWCD staff will assist producers in any eligible water conservation practice to determine suitability and efficiency of practices.
Participants who wish to inquire about the Permanent Water Retirement Practice or any water conservation practice may contact the local NRCS offices and/or the RRWCD office.
Applications may be accepted at local NRCS offices within the Republican River Basin in Colorado or at the RRWCD office for this application period which ends on June 19th, 2015. Obligations for fiscal funding for the Permanent Water Retirement Practice through RRWCD incentives are subject to available funding.
To be eligible for the Permanent Well Retirement Practice, land must have been irrigated two of the last five years and not be subject to any curtailment orders. Upon signing a contract for the Permanent Water Retirement Practice with NRCS, the producer has thirty days to in which to contact the RRWCD to qualify for and contract for RRWCD incentives.
The application deadline is July 17, 2015. Anyone interested in any practices available through the OAI funding for this federal fiscal year must contact NRCS or RRWCD as soon as possible. The district office of the RRWCD is located at 410 Main Street, Wray, CO. The phone number for the RRWCD is (970) 332-3552.