High Plains Water District No. 1 Announces
Public Meetings On Proposed Rule Changes

Friday, March 11, 2011                             By Shawn Wade

      The High Plains Underground Water Conservation District (HPWD) has scheduled five public meetings in March to receive comments on proposed rule amendments to implement a "50/50" groundwater management goal for water pumped within the district's 16-county service area.

      As the name implies, the "50/50" groundwater management goal reflects the district's goal to manage underground water resources within its service area so that 50 percent of the aquifer's current saturated thickness will be in place in 50 years.

      Prior to final adoption of the proposed rule changes the district is encouraging the public, and especially the agriculture community, to get involved in the process and to provide feedback about the proposal.

      The first opportunity to learn about the proposed rule changes and to provide feedback on them will be at a series of public information meetings that have been scheduled throughout the HPWD's service area. The public meeting dates and locations are as follows:

March 23: 9 a.m.-Noon, Hereford ISD Banquet Room, 601 N. 25 Mile Avenue, Hereford, TX.

March 23: 3-6 p.m., Robert Dysart Room, Lamb County Rural Electric Cooperative, 2415 S. Phelps, Littlefield, TX.

March 24: 9 a.m.-Noon, Dimmitt Middle School Auditorium, 1505 Western Circle, Dimmitt, TX.

March 24: 3-6 p.m,, Plains Cotton Cooperative Association Board Room, 3301 E. 50th, Lubbock. (Entrance at southwest side of building).

March 25: 9 a.m.-Noon, Plainview Country Club and Conf. Center, 2902 W. 4th, Plainview, TX.

      "The directors of the High Plains Water District are people, farmers and landowners, just like the rest of us who have a vested interest in getting this done right and finding the best and least intrusive route to meeting the management goals that will extend the useful life of the Ogallala formation for agriculture and the regional economy," notes Plains Cotton Growers Executive Vice President Steve Verett. "They want the input of agriculture and the people that will be impacted by the proposals they have put forth."

      "Whether we like it or not, the management of water resources, especially groundwater, is an increasing point of emphasis within our state," says Verett. "As the primary user of these resources it is important that the agriculture industry take the lead and work together to develop workable rules and mechanisms at the district level to extend the economic benefits of the Ogallala and other underground water resources throughout the state."

      The proposed rules put forth by the HPWD are a step in that direction. To gather input from agriculture and other interests, Verett notes that the full HPWD recommendation is now available.

      Anyone with an interest in the issue can view the complete text of the proposed changes and also submit comments or suggestions. Copies of the proposed rule amendments are available by contacting the HPWD office at (806) 762-0181. They are also available on-line at http://www.hpwd.com

      "The HPWD has used water well spacing as a means of managing groundwater since the 1950s. However, dwindling surface water levels in area reservoirs and other contributing factors have caused more dependence upon groundwater in our region. Because of this, the district cannot rely on well spacing alone—it must move forward with implementation of its "50/50" groundwater management goal of having 50 percent of the saturated thickness of the Ogallala Aquifer in 2010 available in 2060 to conserve the resource," said Jim Conkwright, High Plains Water District manager.

      Among the proposed amendments are designations of high water decline areas in the district in 2011 based upon annual winter water level measurements; metering/reporting requirements for water wells in these areas; and implementation of an allowable production rate for all new/existing water wells beginning in 2012.

      The HPWD Board of Directors strongly encourages residents to attend the meetings and provide input on proposed rules impacting future groundwater production within the district. Individuals may provide oral comments at the meetings or they may submit written comments to the HPWD office, 2930 Avenue Q, Lubbock, TX 79411-2499. Deadline for written comments is 5:00 p.m. on April 1, 2011.

      Also, in accordance with State Law, the HPWD must conduct at least one public hearing to receive comments on the proposed revisions before they can be adopted.

      "For convenience of our residents, the Board will conduct a public hearing in the northern and southern portions of the district on these proposed rule amendments. The dates and locations have not been determined as yet—but this information will be posted to the district's web site and made available to news media as quickly as possible," Conkwright said.


CRP 41 Sign-up Period March 14-April 15;
New EBI Criteria May Warrant FSA Office Visit

Friday, March 11, 2011                             By Shawn Wade

      General sign-up 41 for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) will begin on March 14, 2011, and continue through April 15, 2011 according to the USDA Farm Service Agency. During the sign-up period, farmers and ranchers may offer eligible land at their county Farm Service Agency (FSA) office.

      The 2008 Farm Bill authorized USDA to maintain CRP enrollment up to 32 million acres. Sign-up 41 hopes to attract up to 4 million acres for enrollment nationally, subject to the final decision of USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.

      "For 25 years, CRP has generated significant environmental improvements," said Vilsack. "Sound conservation practices encouraged through CRP enrollment preserve the soil, clean our water and restore habitat for wildlife. I encourage all interested farmers and ranchers to contact their local FSA office to learn more about this opportunity."

      Nationally, current CRP participants with contracts expiring this fall on about 4.4 million acres may make new contract offers. Contracts awarded under this sign-up are scheduled to become effective October 1, 2011.

      In Texas, CRP contracts on approximately 684,000 acres are set to expire this year, with 576,441 of those acres located in 51 panhandle counties. Expiring and subsequent available cropland acreage for Sign-up 41 will vary county to county due to total active CRP contracts, application of the 25 percent cropland acreage cap and the national limit of 32 million acres.

      FSA will evaluate and rank eligible CRP offers using an Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) for environmental benefits to be gained from enrolling the land in CRP. The EBI consists of five environmental factors (wildlife, water, soil, air and enduring benefits) and cost. Decisions on the EBI cutoff will be made after the sign-up ends April 15 and after analyzing the EBI data of all the offers.

      It is important to note that there are some changes in the EBI scoring criteria for this CRP signup. Among them are points given for pollinator habitat establishment, and the enhancement of monoculture grass covers to native mixtures. One other major change in the scoring criteria is that the installation of wildlife water facilities will no longer generate points.

      Producers are encouraged to contact their local FSA office to establish an appointment as soon as possible if they are interested in reenrolling a current CRP contract expiring this September or to offer new land. FSA and NRCS personnel will be available to assist the producer in the offer process.

      In addition to general sign-up, CRP's continuous sign-up program will also be ongoing. Continuous acres represent the most environmentally desirable and sensitive land. For more information, visit: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/crp


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2010 Crop Final Quality Report Summary

      The following is a summary of the cotton classed at the Lubbock and Lamesa USDA Cotton Division Cotton Classing Offices for the 2010 production season.


Season Totals To Date:









21+ - 84.0%

31 - 11.1%





21+ - 84.3%

31 - 12.1%


















Source: USDA AMS


2011 Production Conference & Meeting Dates


Meeting - Location:



March 23 -





March 24 -





March 25 -

High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1 Public Meetings

9 a.m.-Noon, Hereford ISD Banquet Room, 601 N. 25 Mile Avenue, Hereford, TX.

3-6 p.m., Robert Dysart Room, Lamb County Rural Electric Cooperative, 2415 S. Phelps, Littlefield, TX.

9 a.m.-Noon, Dimmitt Middle School Auditorium, 1505 Western Circle, Dimmitt, TX.

3-6 p.m., Plains Cotton Cooperative Association Board Room, 3301 E. 50th, Lubbock. (Entrance at southwest side of building).

9 a.m.-Noon, Plainview Country Club and Conference Center, 2902 W 4th, Plainview, TX.





March 22 -

Bayer CropScience/Cotton Grower Magazine Tech Tour Events – 10:30am-1:30pm each day, Register online at www.cotton247.com/techtour or call (440) 602-9150. Space is limited!
Amarillo Museum of Art, 2200 S. Van Buren, Amarillo, TX.

March 23 -

Plainview Civic Center, 2902 W. 4th Street, Plainview, TX.

March 24 -

American Wind Power Center, 1701 Canyon Lakes Drive, Lubbock, TX

March 28

Cotton Production Workshop - Lamesa

March 29

Sorghum Production Workshop - Lamesa

March 29

Beef Marketing Workshop - Miami

March 30

Rolling Plains Ag Conference - Snyder

March 31

Beef Cattle Meeting - Lipscomb County

March 31

Beef Herd Health Workshop - Perryton Expo, Perryton

March 31

Pesticide Applicator & Pesticide Handler Trainings – Lamesa Community Women's Building, Lamesa, Texas

Source: Texas AgriLife Extension