On July 16, 2004, the Department of Natural Resources made a preliminary determination designating the entire South Platte NRD as fully appropriated. On September 25, 2004, the Department issued an order designating the South Platte River Basin including Lodgepole Creek as overappropriated. The fully and overappropriated designations mean an immediate moratorium on new groundwater wells.
The law does provide for the construction of replacement water wells, or those constructed to provide water for the same purpose as the original water well. In preparing to construct a replacement well, a number of requirements must be met: 1) such replacement well is not designed or constructed to pump more water than the well it replaces, 2) no more than one (1) replacement well may be used to replace the original well, 3) no replacement irrigation well may be installed for any well irrigating acres that have not been certified. The requirements for replacement wells and other situations with wells can be seen in the Districtwide Ground Water Management Area Rules and Regulations.
If you need a replacement well, you must fill out a permit application and have District approval prior to construction.
Protect your wells: Make sure they are properly registered
New irrigation wells must be drilled at least 600 feet from any existing registered irrigation well under separate ownership. Industrial and certain public water supply wells must be drilled at least 1,000 feet from any registered existing irrigation well.
There are a number of things going on at the state and federal level (Nebraska Game & Parks Instream Flows, 3-State Platte River Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), etc) that could restrict new surface water uses and new groundwater wells. It appears that existing wells would likely be exempt, as long as they are properly registered. Wells not properly registered are, by law, illegal wells and may become subject to the same restrictions as new wells. Because of that possibility, the South Platte NRD is urging all landowners to make sure that their irrigation wells are properly registered with the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources.
Nebraska State Law in Statute 46-601 states "The registration of all wells, except wells used solely for domestic purposes, in this state should be required," and in 46-657 states an "Illegal well shall mean (a) any well operated or constructed without or in violation of a permit required by the Nebraska Ground Water Management and Protection Act, (b) any well not in compliance with rules and regulations adopted and promulgated pursuant to such act, (c) any well not properly registered in accordance with section 46-602 to 46-604, or (d) any well not in compliance with any other applicable laws of the State of Nebraska or with rules and regulations adopted and promulgated pursuant to such laws".
Because many wells are not properly registered under the current landowners' name(s) or the registrations are incorrect as far as the location of the well, the South Platte NRD offers service to the landowners on updating well registrations. We will help you identify your well and location and insure you that your well is properly registered. For more information, contact the SPNRD office (308) 254-2377.