Some farmers may not be aware of the reporting requirement, says Brian Hardin, director of the Alabama Farmers Federation Greenhouse, Nursery and Sod Division.

"Sod growers, row-crop farmers and other producers who irrigate should contact the Alabama Office of Water Resources (OWR) if they are not sure whether they need to register, says Hardin. "By reporting their water use now, farmers may be able to protect their right to irrigate in the future."

The Water Resources Act of 1993 is a non-regulatory program that collects information on water needs and trends and maintains a data base of this usage throughout the state, says Trey Glenn, OWR director. All public users and large non-public and irrigation users who meet the 100,000-gallon threshold are required to register their water use with OWR using a Declaration of Beneficial Use (DBU) form.

A DBU contains general owner information and information on ground and surface water withdrawals and should be received within 90 days of putting a well or intake into service. Farmers must certify that their use is lawful and is reasonable in respect to the water source. DBU’s can be downloaded from OWR’s Website at www.adeca.alabama.gov or can be obtained by contacting OWR.

Once the DBU has been submitted, OWR verifies the information to be complete. Then, a Certificate of Use is issued. The only requirement for certificate holders is the annual reporting of average monthly use and peak withdrawals for each month.

Certificates are valid for five to 10 years and are renewable using the same DBU forms as the original submittal. If there are any changes to the withdrawal status, a DBU must be filed to reflect the change.

Water users now may access water usage electronically using eWater Reporting. Water users can access data specific to a designated certificate using a password-protected interface. Farmers may submit DBU’s, annual reports, modification requests, renewals and contact OWR via the Internet. Water users will continue to have the option of submitting DBU’s and other data using paper forms.

For more information, contact the OWR at (334) 242-5499.

e-mail: phollis@primediabusiness.com