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MAINE BULLETIN NO. ME 180-11-6

 

                                                                                            Date: July 1, 2011
 

Subject: CPA – Irrigation Policy

Purpose. To revise and explain NRCS’ Irrigation Policy.

Expiration Date: September 30, 2011

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 level 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 will 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.

Documentation of Minimum Stream Flows

The MDEP will establish minimum seasonal stream flows that must be maintained as required by the MDEP Rule, Chapter 587. When a more restrictive minimum seasonal stream flow rate is established because of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) or other environmental regulation, the more restrictive rate shall be used in the conservation planning process and documented in the Conservation Plan.

Documentation of Lake and Pond Levels

MDEP will establish minimum seasonal lake and pond levels and any required seasonal flows for the associated outlet stream of lakes and ponds as required by the MDEP Rule, Chapter 587. When a more restrictive water level or outlet stream flow rates associated with lakes and ponds 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.

Note that storage ponds constructed for irrigation purposes outside of the natural stream channel are exempt from this Chapter 587.

Refer to the attachment for more detailed information on Maine NRCS irrigation assistance requirements and the MDEP Chapter 587 applicability determination process

Contact. 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 1 - Additional Maine NRCS Irrigation Assistance Requirements and MDEP Chapter 587 Applicability Determination Process (.pdf)

Attachment 2 (.pdf) - Preliminary Basic Irrigation Water Assessment to Submit to MDEP for Chapter 587 Determination Request (.pdf)   

Attachment 2 (.docx) - Preliminary Basic Irrigation Water Assessment to Submit to MDEP for Chapter 587 Determination Request