Letter: Overwhelmed by irrigation regulations?
The development of irrigation in Bonanza Valley has truly been a Bonanza for everyone in this land of sandy loam soil. Our economy has expanded and enriched everyone associated with its development.
However, there is now much discussion about supposed irrigation problems by the Department of Natural Resources that has people up in arms about overregulation. They propose to license every irrigator, install water meters on every well, and require every irrigating farmer to make reports of water use to them among other things, license wells, and charge fees for all of this. And if they don't comply there will be penalties.
A recent letter to the editor by Earl Hauge, an irrigating farmer west of Brooten, gives factual evidence with graphs that show aquifer water levels from 1930 until 2013 have varied very little through times of drought and times of ample rainfall, from the great drought of the 1930s to the present. Now that most of our available ground is irrigated, the ground water levels are as high or higher than they were before development of irrigation began. Irrigation uses only 17 percent of the annual rainfall.
Jim Anderson of Anderson Farms, irrigating between Brooten and Belgrade, tells us that three of the oldest monitoring wells in Bonanza Valley, according to DNR website records, show that the aquifer water levels have varied very little during the past 50 years with or without irrigation
The level of the water in the underground aquifer stays very constant whether the land is irrigated or not. It appears that if irrigation does not utilize this water for their crops, natural drainage of the aquifer will occur through Skunk and Mud Creeks. This action maintains a constant water level of the aquifer.
In other words, if we don't use it, we lose it. Therefore the water level is sustainable and self regulating.
Earl says that State Hydrologists know all the above figures and that it is disingenuous for them to imply that irrigation in Bonanza Valley is not sustainable.
Are we about to be overwhelmed by more government regulations?