New rules will soon be in effect for groundwater users in the area.

The High Plains Underground Water Conservation District Number 1 Board of Directors approved rule changes, which include new limits on what those pumping groundwater within the 16-county service area may use throughout the year.

Beginning in 2012 through 2013, all persons operating a well pumping groundwater from the Ogallala Aquifer must limit the total amount of production to 1.75 acre-feet or 21 inches per contiguous acre per year. The limit will drop to 1.5 acre feet or 18 inches per acre per year through 2015, then lowers again to 1.25 acre-feet or 15 inches per year for 2016 and beyond.

Existing wells that are required to be metered must record the use of groundwater, and all must be equipped with a fully functioning meter by January 2016. All new wells will be required to be equipped with a fully functioning meter before producing groundwater in early 2012. Those with wells will now be required to submit annual production reports to the HPWD. The first reports for the 2012 calendar year must be submitted to the district by March 1st, 2013.

A list of approved meters and alternate measuring methods will be available on the HPWD site in early September. Those with meters already installed will not be required to replace the meter until it is no longer functional.

These rules are part of the HPWD’s “50/50 Management Goal” which was accepted in 2010, aimed to ensure that 50 percent of the Ogallala Aquifer will still be there in 50 years. The five-member board approved the changes 4 to 0, as Precinct 2 director Jim Copeland of Anton was absent.

Precinct One District Director James Powell of Lubbock discussed the rule changes saying “We may not all be right and we may not all be wrong. But one thing is for certain – when the water is gone, none of us will be here.”

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