Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

SPNRD Practices Declared Sound


December 20, 2012

The South Platte Natural Resources District received a clean bill of health in its financial practices, according to the annual audit results presented to the board of directors at the District’s December board meeting.

Presenting the report, Rachel Smith from Rauner and Associates, told the directors the District’s audit resulted in a Qualified, or clean, opinion showing no significant problems. The audit, examining the 2012 fiscal year ending in June, showed the District holds $3,080,875 in combined net assets, including $387,024 total liabilities.

The only blip on the report is one Smith says is one that’s very small and not uncommon with smaller institutions. In an ideal situation, Smith reports accounting practices are segregated, where one person does not perform all bookkeeping and payment duties. She told the board the concern is diminished somewhat by the board’s hands-on practices and awareness of the District’s financial dealings. She also complimented District bookkeeping staff for their openness and knowledge of the system.

Audits are required of entities using public funds and follow state law and Government Auditing Standards.

Following the audit report, the board was updated on a project funded through the District in conjunction with the Upper Niobrara White and North Platte NRDs and the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources.

Gary Stone, from the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center at Scottsbluff, presented year-two numbers from a three-year Panhandle-wide study on evapotranspiration (ET) and use of atmometers to measure crop water use.

Even knowing the hot dry conditions would result in greater water use, Stone and others were surprised by the 2012 crop year’s final numbers, which showed crops required an average of 2.25 inches more water per week over 2011. Cumulatively, that added up to 12 inches more water requirement over the previous season.

Stone reported in the region, some areas showed up to four inches of water demand in a single week. He said on average, the further west and south one went in the District, the higher the evapotranspiration.

In a second report from the Research and Extension Center, Stone and Dr. Gary Hergert provided a short introduction to a new Excel-based program, Water Optimizer, developed by the University.

The program comes from studies done in deficit irrigation to assist agricultural producers determine potential crops, populations, water needs and other factors when full irrigation is not possible.

“Deficit irrigation changes the entire irrigation picture and practices,” Hergert said. “Relationships between yield, ET and water pumped change drastically from the irrigation curves under full irrigation.”

Hergert said the wide swings in precipitation in recent years are likely to continue and water management will become more critical. Hergert said examples of those drastic changes show in 2005, one of the wettest years in the past 100 years; followed by 2007 and 2012, which were two of the century’s driest.

The University and Panhandle NRDs plan to work together on meetings that will showcase Water Optimizer, display its capabilities and help producers learn how to use it as a management tool.

The South Platte NRD protects lives, property and the future of the area through a wide range of stewardship, management and education programs – from flood control to groundwater monitoring, irrigation management, soil conservation and more. Activities and projects of the South Platte NRD are reviewed and approved by a locally elected board of directors.

For more information, visit http://www.spnrd.org or call 308-254-2377.


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