Wednesday, July 21, 2010

AWEP - Conservation Log: Day 19:

A bit more detail has come out on how the Partnership program is going to operate in our 6 HPA's.  Any irrigator within our 6 areas can now visit their local NRCS office and make application - again, to receive 5 years of payments per acre in lieu of not irrigating for 6 years.  The annual payments will be based on ones benchmark acres - average acres irrigated per year between 2005 and 2009.  Moreover, the benchmark acres must equal or exceed 66% 45%* of the authorized irrigated acres and must have been watered at least 2 of these 5 years.  Finally, the acres must have received at least 6 acre-inches of water applied.  These are the eligibility criteria.

All the eligible applications will then be ranked.  If your irrigated acres are from 70% 60%* to 79.9% of the authorized acres, you'll get additional points.  If from 80% to 89.9%, more points, and if more than 90%, more points yet.

If you applied from 8 - 12 13 acre-inches of water per acre (average over all years irrigated) you'll receive additional points.  If you applied more than 12 13 acre-inches per acre you'll receive more points.

Finally, if you had submitted an eligible Kansas Water Transition Assistance Program (WTAP) application  in the last go-around and were not accepted, you get additional points.

As you can see, this program is seeking to convert the acres that have been irrigated the most - hence will result in the most groundwater conservation.  I won't apologize for this although water users who have seriously reduced their water use over the past 5 years will tend to not fare as well - especially if they have eliminated acres to do so. 

A common question is what will happen to the water rights?  Being in a designated HPA, the water rights will be protected from non-use issues for the entire time and will be completely usable after the 6th year.  However, our intent remains to permanently convert the irrigated acres enrolled.  We will be seeking other programs to make this happen.  Bottom line:  If you are keenly interested in a permanent retirement, don't ignore this program just because it's temporary. 

Others ask about overlapped water rights. Overlapped water rights must be all enrolled to ensure water conservation.  Also, enrolling part of a single water right will not be allowed.

We've received calls or visits from folks in every HPA as of just a few minutes ago, so there appears to be sufficient interest.  We hope it continues.

NOTE:  * corrections are updates to the program rules that have been made after the original date of this post.  Blog corrections made by WAB on 07/27/2010

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