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MAINE BULLETIN NO. ME 180-10-3

 

                                                                                                 November 13, 2009
 

Subject: CPA – Irrigation Policy

Purpose. To establish and explain NRCS’ Irrigation Policy.

Expiration Date. September 30, 2010

Background. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) has completed their Sustainable Water Use Rulemaking. The MDEP has prepared in-stream water flows and lake or pond water levels as required by the statute. The statute required that the rules must “establish water use standards for maintaining in-stream flows, and lake or pond water levels that are protective of aquatic life and other uses that establish criteria for designating watersheds most at risk from cumulative water use. Standards adopted were based on the natural variation of flows and water levels allowing variances if used will still be protective of water quality within that classification.” The Board of Environmental Protection adopted the rule and it was presented and approved by the Maine Legislature. The rules became effective August 24, 2007 and are contained in the MDEP Rule, Chapter 587. This rule is available at: http://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/rules/06/096/096c587.doc

Because the in-stream water flows and lake or pond water levels requirements have been established, Maine NRCS can now rely on the MDEP to determine water flow or water level requirements needed to protect all water quality standards for existing or proposed irrigation water withdrawals. Therefore, NRCS may provide technical assistance on irrigation to clients who are currently withdrawing or who are planning to withdraw from waters that are covered by these rules.

Explanation.

Documentation of Minimum Stream Flows


For all situations that involve removing water from Chapter 587 covered waters (streams), the maximum pumping rate will not exceed 1% of 7Q10 (as established by MDEP) or the more limiting flow. This flow will be documented in the Conservation Plan. When a more restrictive flow rate is established because of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) or other environmental regulation, the more restrictive maximum pumping rate shall be used in the conservation planning process and documented in the Conservation Plan.

Documentation of Lake and Pond Levels

For all situations that involve removing water from Chapter 587 covered waters, lakes and ponds, the water removal rates NRCS will use for conservation planning of irrigation systems will factor in the water levels and seasonal flows mandated by Chapter 587. In some situations, there are required seasonal flows for the outlet streams of these water bodies. Water levels and required seasonal flows will be documented in the Conservation Plan. When a more restrictive water level or flow rates are established because of ESA or EFH or other environmental regulation, the more restrictive water level or flow rates shall be used in the conservation planning process and documented in the Conservation Plan.

NRCS will consider situations where water removals from lakes and ponds and the information provided by the Agricultural Water Management Board (AWMB) on a case-by-case basis to determine the appropriate level of technical assistance to provide to the client.

Contact. Refer to the attachment for more information, and if you have any questions contact Dan Baumert, State Conservation Engineer at 207-990-9555 or email dan.baumert@me.usda.gov  or Christopher Jones, State Resource Conservationist at 207-990-9563 or email chris.jones@me.usda.gov
 

/s/ Juan C. Hernandez

JUAN C. HERNANDEZ
State Conservationist

The following document requires  Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)

Attachment - Discussion of Irrigation Scenarios