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Groundwater & Federal Issues Subcommittee

Subcommittee Chairpersons: 

A.J. Olsen
Hennighausen & Olsen, L.L.P.
PO Box 1415
Roswell, NM 88202
Phone: (557) 624-2463
Email: A.J. Olsen

Mark E. Rude - General Manager
2009 East Spruce Street / Garden City, KS 67846
Phone: (620) 275-7147 / Fax: (620) 275-1431
District e-mail address: Mark Rude

Important Informational Links

National Ground Water Association - June 26, 2015

Forest Service Formally Withdraws Proposed Groundwater Directive 

After several recent high-profile interactions with their Congress, where members questioned the intent of the U.S. Forest Service’s (USFS) proposed directive on groundwater, USFS formally withdrew the directive on June 19. 

The directive was criticized by some in Congress who perceived it as federal government overreach into state issues. 

Chris Carlson, USFS Groundwater Program Leader, stated: “By withdrawing the proposed directive, the agency is hoping to be able to continue important conversations with states, tribes, and others, with a clean slate. The withdrawal means the agency will continue to make decisions about its activities and those of others on the national forests and grasslands that could affect groundwater resources without the structure contained in the proposed directive for some time to come.” 

USFS is permitted to re-propose a directive in the future, although it is unclear if or when that will occur. 

NGWA impact: NGWA filed comments on the proposed directive and was supportive of the USFS effort. NGWA looks forward to continuing to work with USFS to ensure groundwater resources are managed and protected.

U.S. Water News Online - May 2007

Idaho threatens to throttle Magic Valley groundwater users

TWIN FALLS, Idaho -- The head of Idaho's water department says he will turn off groundwater pumps used by more than 700 Magic Valley farmers later this month if they fail to set aside additional water sought by two senior users. Idaho Water Resources Department Director David Tuthill said he intends to issue a curtailment order on May 14 targeting 771 groundwater users spread across 33,000 acres of the Magic Valley north of the Snake River. Tuthill said the decision is part of the agency's ongoing response to demands for additional water sought in 2005 by Blue Lakes Trout Farm and Clear Springs Food's Snake River Farm. Both producers contend they have the senior, legal right to divert more water than they are currently receiving. "While we are forced to provide this notice, there is still an opportunity to identify additional" solutions and alternatives, Tuthill said. "Curtailment is really a last resort. I really hope we don't hurt growers." Calls by senior right holders for more water are common, particularly during the recent string of dry years in Idaho. But Tuthill said the May 14 curtailment orders marks the first time a shutdown has targeted so many users. The order could also limit water supplies to towns in the Magic Valley, including Blaine, Butte, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln and Minidoka counties, according to the department. In the past, groundwater users have sidestepped curtailment orders by voluntarily giving up water to senior right holders. But this year, some say the resource is too precious to pass on. "We just don't believe there's enough water in the system," said Lynn Tominaga, executive director of the Idaho Ground Water Appropriators. "We might end up going to court or asking the director for a special hearing." Another option is a state and federal conservation program for farmers. The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program would reimburse farmers who opt not to farm acreage for conservation reasons and farmers who enroll in the program are exempt from curtailment orders. The call for additional water affects users with priority rights beginning after May 10, 1983, the date established by Blue Lakes, and June 9, 1975, the rights date established by Clear Springs.


WSW Issue #1714 March 26, 2007

The newly created Subcommittee on Ground Water (SOGW) has been charged by the federal Advisory Committee on Water Information (ACWI) with leading a nationwide effort to assist with development of a nationwide, long-term ground water quantity and quality monitoring framework.

The SOGW goal is to have a draft proposal in the next 12-18 months, and it is seeking volunteers to assist. A notice to this effect was released March 21, by Christine Reimer, National Ground Water Association.

In the United States, ground water is the primary water source for 74% of community water systems, provides more than 40% of agriculture irrigation water and serves nearly all rural households. "Ground water and ground water professionals will be increasingly called upon in the future to help address the nation's water needs," said Robert Schreiber, SOGW Co-Chair. "Access to fundamental data on the ground water resource and its quality is needed for current and future decision-making," added Schreiber.

"With 36 States expecting either statewide or localized shortages in the next 10 years it is important that we work toward a nationwide framework for ground water monitoring and collaboration that will facilitate the assessment of the U.S. ground water reserves," said Robert Hirsch, ACWI Co-Chair and U.S. Geological Survey Associate Director for Water.

SOGW seeks volunteers with expertise in ground water monitoring design, field practices, data standards, and data management to participate in one of four work groups, namely: (1) Inventory Work Group - Co-Chairs: William Cunningham, USGS; Emery Davis, Association of American State Geologists; and Michael Wireman, USEPA; (2) Field Practice Work Group - Co-Chairs: Mike Nickolaus, Ground Water Protection Council and Rod Sheets, USGS; (3) Data Standards and Data Management Work Group - Chair: Charles Job, USEPA; and (4) Monitoring Design Work Group - Chair: Robert Schrieber, American Society of Civil Engineers ACWI representative.

For more information or to submit your name for consideration, interested persons are invited to email SOGW Executive Secretary Chris Reimer at Put SOGW in the subject line and include a short paragraph (1) identifying which work group you are interested in being considered as a member, (2) why you are interested, and (3) what applicable background you bring.