Sanctions expected on NRD rule violations
By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
Sanctions for the violation of the groundwater rules and regulations in the Upper Republican Natural Resources District (URNRD) are expected to be decided by the board this week.
The URNRD board held a special meeting Wednesday, June 16, to discuss alleged violations outlined in nearly 40 cease & desist orders sent to landowners and operators.
They met in another special session Tuesday afternoon, June 22, to give further consideration on what actions to take.
The board spent an hour and 45 minutes in closed session to discuss the violations with parties involved.
The closed sessions were requested by the parties involved, which is allowed for in the open meetings law.
The C&D orders were sent to six landowners and four different operators who lease some of the targeted land where alleged violations occurred.
For nearly two hours, board members discussed the various alleged violations and appropriate penalties.
The alleged violations include wells that are or were equipped or altered with piping to allow water to bypass the meter; incorrect meter spacing; lack of calibration of meter to the pipe size where it was installed; connection or comingling of multiple wells; and illegal wells.
URNRD Manager Jasper Fanning told the board his staff found several instances in which the bypass equipment was still active.
He said another instance had been discovered after the first C&D orders were mailed. A C&D order was issued on this property, as well, he noted.
Staff also found property with similar equipment that had been disabled but could have been in use at some period of time.
Board members commented the properties with active bypasses must be dealt with in a manner fitting the violation.
The rules give the board the authority to reduce or strip allocation, carryforward and certified acres for violations.
Board member Tom Terryberry said the certified acres on those properties need to be taken away, since the bypass remains active and has been in place for an undeterminable amount of time.
The question the board struggled with was whether to permanently take away the certified allocation, carryforward and certified acres or do so for a certain period of time.
A motion to permanently retire the irrigation gained a second, followed by considerable discussion.
The motion was amended to limit the time frame to five years.
Considering the magnitude the decision would make, the board tabled the item to give them further time to contemplate their decision.
That decision was expected Tuesday this week when the board reconvened in special session.