N-CORPE refinancing construction bond
By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
Members of the Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement Project (N-CORPE) voted to refinance the bond used to finance the construction of the augmentation project in Lincoln County.
As a member of the coalition, the board of the Upper Republican Natural Resources District (URNRD) approved the refinancing project during their regular meeting Tuesday, June 2 in Imperial.
The initial bond with Adams Bank & Trust and other participating banks carried a fixed interest rate for five years for 5 percent on a 25-year payment schedule.
The new bonds will be sold at a 15-year term with an interest savings estimated around 2 percent. Even with a shorter payment term, payments will still be less than the current bond.
Occupation taxes are pledged as the revenue source to back up the bonds.
The URNRD’s initial share of the cost was $4.7 million of the 15 million bonded. Manager Jasper Fanning said that amount is down to around $4.1 million now.
URNRD project funding
Board members voted to provide up to $30,000 in funding to assist the new wheat research center in Grant on variable rate nozzle control on a center pivot.
The center wants to install a new pivot with rate control on all nozzles of the pivot. Other entities have also pledged financial backing to help pay for the pivot and rate control equipment.
The board also committed up to $100,000 over each of the next five years to assist with the installation of water probes.
The probes cost about $2,000 each and are used to better manage water application. Proper use of the probes can save from one to four inches of water annually.
The URNRD has been receiving grants from the Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund to defray about half the cost of the probe, with the NRD paying a third of the cost and the irrigator picking up the rest.
Assistant Manager Nate Jenkins said grass reseeding has been completed for this year, with about four more pivots remaining.
With the project now off, Jenkins said they will inspect the Medicine Creek stream bed to see in any repairs need to be made as a result of the increased flows.
Fanning responded to a question on LR 323 introduced by Sen. Mike Groene of North Platte asking the Natural Resources Committee to study the N-CORPE project.
Committee Chair Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala will make the final determination of whether or not the study will be completed.
In a press release last week, Sen. Groene said he wanted to study seven specific aspects of the project:
(1) The long-term consequences of annual ground water pumping from N-CORPE for purposes of compliance with the Republican River Compact and the Twin Platte Natural Resources District Integrated Management Plan and how the effects of the pumping are determined.
(2) The potential for banking water from the N-CORPE project when banking is determined to be appropriate and how the decision to bank water is determined.
(3) Which entity is responsible for enforcement, reporting, and oversight of augmentation projects.
(4) How information about the project and the consequences to streamflow, compliance with the compact and the tax base are disseminated to producers, taxpayers and the general public.
(5) What impact augmentation will have on long-term sustainability including the ability of future generations of producers to remain in agriculture and be able to irrigate.
(6) Whether augmentation is causing unintended harm to other landowners, producers, agencies, counties or other political subdivisiona.
(7) What are the long-term consequences of augmentation projects on property taxes.
Fanning said it’s too early in the process to respond to any concerns posed by Sen. Groene.