Farmers participating in an irrigation metering program in the Mississippi Delta have met their goal of submitting information on their wells to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, MDEQ officials announced.
Growers had until Feb. 1 to report the water usage from the 5 percent of the irrigation wells in each Delta county that were enrolled in the voluntary program initiated by the Department through the Delta Sustainable Water Resources Task Force in the summer of 2014.
The task force is charged with helping reduce the overdraft in the alluvial aquifer that underlies the Delta region. Task force members include MDEQ, the Delta Council, the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, the YMD Joint Water Management District, the Mississippi Soil and Water Conservation Commission and Delta FARM.
“We were very pleased to see farmers meet this goal,” said Kay Whittington, director of the Office of Land and Water Resources at MDEQ. “We believe this is an important first step in preserving this important resource. The Delta continues to demonstrate a commitment to make the voluntary approach successful.”
The voluntary metering program grew out of the task force’s efforts to get a better perspective on irrigation water use in the Delta. The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality is charged with protecting the aquifer and other waters of the state of Mississippi.
Farmers had until last June 30 to install flow meters on 5 percent of the permitted wells in each Delta County. If they had not met that goal, MDEQ officials said a mandatory reporting program would be necessary.
The next stage of the program is to have flow meters installed on a total of 1,700 meters or 10 percent of the permitted wells in each county and to report the usage for those wells by January of 2016. The goal will require the installation of another 850 flow meters this summer.
“Farm Bureau applauds our members and producers in the Delta for reaching the necessary reporting requirements of the voluntary metering program,” said Mike McCormick, president of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation. “We have met our 5-percent goal of installed meters by the initial deadline, the first phase of reporting requirements, and we will continue to pursue reaching the remaining 5-percent goal of installed meters by December 2015.”
Farm Bureau policy supports a voluntary approach to collecting this information about Delta water use, he noted. “We supported the proposal for a voluntary program offered by the Delta Sustainable Water Resource Taskforce, and farm leaders in the Delta have followed through on that agreement.
“Over the last two years, a substantial amount of time and resources were put forth by our volunteer leaders and staff to assure that we met these numbers. Farm Bureau and the other organizations on the task force will continue to focus our attention on reaching the remaining portion of the metering program goals and promoting water conservation measures and programs at every opportunity.”
For more information on irrigation conservation, visit http://deltafarmpress.com/government/permit-levels-could-make-good-irrigation-targets-farmers.