Irrigation restrictions hit northeast Nebraska

New irrigation restrictions are being imposed on farmers in parts of three northeast Nebraska counties.

Concerns about the lingering drought prompted the board of directors of the Norfolk-based Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (NRD) to take the action, which affects irrigators in parts of Madison, Pierce and Wayne counties. 

The new rules include limits on how much water can be used for irrigation annually. Center-pivot irrigators in one of the allocated areas in Madison County will be allowed to use up to 14 inches of water in 2013.  Another in Wayne Country will be allowed 13 inches.  Those irrigators will be required to install flow meters that measure water use by May 1st.

The new rules also prohibit the expansion of irrigated acres as well as off-season irrigation.

The Lower Elkhorn NRD board had received hundreds of complaints this past summer of domestic wells going dry on land adjacent to irrigated acres.  It becomes the first NRD in eastern Nebraska to impose water allocation measures on irrigators.  Irrigation restrictions have previously been confined to parts of central and western Nebraska.

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