Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Always Bothered Me

I ran across the following in a newsletter today:  "State law prohibits the occurrence of uncontrolled irrigation runoff...It is illegal to operate an irrigation system that contributes to wasting groundwater."  The article goes on to say that the management entity has budgeted cost-share funds for the installation of irrigation reuse pits, and that additional state and federal cost-share funds are also available.  I have to ask:  Why is anyone using tax payers money to cost share on fixing an illegal activity?  Especially one that will save the irrigator lots of money.

We ran across the same situation in Kansas years ago regarding the plugging of abandoned wells - also illegal - and also cost-shared by the state and some local entities.  GMD 4 chose to regulate the plugging of these wells over enticing the owners with cost-share funds.  We got 2,000 wells (after an inventory) plugged for an average GMD4 cost of about $30.00 per well.  The cost share programs were getting wells plugged for about $200.00 per well.  Our effort got all the located wells plugged in our district.  Theirs got only 75 or so plugged from conscientious landowners over the rest of the entire state.  Like patching holes in the roof - what good does it do to fix 5% of the holes?

Our program educated and involved the well drillers so that very few new abandoned wells were coming into the system. Theirs was business as usual at the close of the program with landowners walking away from wells at the same pace as before.  The problem would simply return over time.

The regulatory approach was not always easy, but it was remarkably efficient and effective.  I always thought the public footing the bill for this work would take us to task quicker if we chose to use an inefficient and/or ineffective approach to solve the problem. This is actually a bigger waste of public funds in my opinion.  Our board agreed with me and went the regulatory path. Anyway, good luck with cost-sharing these solutions.

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