There are many conservation practices that qualify users for
a full term permit, he says, such as installation of a sprinkler irrigation system or precision landforming with precision pads and pipes.
For row crops and rice, one of the following conditionss will qualify:
•All water from the well is applied through a sprinkler.
•Most of the irrigation runoff (tailwater) is captured by the applicant and reused. This option requires an active surface water permit. The captured runoff may be used on another location managed by the applicant. This option requires an unmetered report of the surface water permit associated with the groundwater runoff reuse.
•Surface water can be applied to at least 75 percent of the groundwater irrigated area. This option requires an unmetered report of the surface water permit associated with the groundwater runoff reuse.
If precision landforming is the option chosen for meeting the permit’s conservation requirements, one of the following conditions must also be met:
•Permanent perimeter pipes and pads.
•Land formed to zero grade.
•PHAUCET or similar approved irrigation design computer program is used to design optimum polypipe hole sizes.
•Timer to automatically or remotely shut off the well.
•Side inlet water distribution is used if the acreage is in rice.
For aquaculture, any two of the following will qualify:
•The outlet pipe elevation is set equal to or higher than the typical pond levee height from May 1 through Oct. 31.
•There is a timer or device on the well to automatically or remotely shut it off.
•Pond levels are maintained to have several inches of unfilled pond storage that is managed by a visual water level-indicating device in the pond.
For wildlife habitat (migratory waterfowl):
•When available, surface water can be pumped or diverted onto the permitted area. A surface water permit is required for this option.
•The operator implements a program to capture rainfall on the site by closing a water control structure (like a slotted board riser) in the late summer or early fall.
Financial assistance for implementing conservation practices or purchasing and installing a flow meter may be available; information is available at local county NRCS offices.
Use of surface water, where available, as a primary water supply, with groundwater as a backup resource, has potential for significant reductions in groundwater use, Pennington says.
“Analyses show that if we can reduce groundwater usage by 10 percent to 20 percent, we can balance our water budget. Through practices such as tailwater recovery systems, land forming, and on-farm water storage structures, this is an attainable target and can provide a sustainable supply.”