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Dave Domina Speaks Before LRNRD on Behalf of Furnas County Landowners Subject to Late Father’s Permanent Irrigation Ban

Dave Domina

The Kearney Hub has profiled Attorney Dave Domina’s recent appearance at a board meeting for the Lower Republican Natural Resources District (LRNRD), where he spoke during public comments on behalf of landowners seeking a review of the board’s permanent irrigation ban on over 1,100 acres in Furnas County.

As noted in an article from the Kearney Hub, Dave Domina and Domina Law currently represent two sisters and other owners of Furnas County farmland permanently banned from irrigation four years ago by the LRNRD. The ban was a penalty imposed on the sisters’ late father Gerald Schluntz for violating irrigation rules and tampering with irrigation well flowmeters in summer 2016.

Because the NRD has groundwater use allocations of 45 inches per certified acre during a five-year period, flowmeters are required on Lower Republican irrigation systems. The previous 45-inch allocation period ran through 2017, while the current began in 2018.

Although Schluntz died in August 2016, the LRNRD board initiated a public hearing on the violations in September 2016, and confirmed the permanent ban penalty in February 2017. Citing previous violation warnings issued to Schluntz in May 2008 for flowmeter tampering and October 2010 for irrigating non-certified areas, the board approved enhanced penalties. The sisters and Schluntz’s estate appealed the irrigation ban to the Nebraska Supreme Court, but in July 2018, the Court ruled in favor of the LRNRD.

During Thursday’s board meeting, Domina spoke on behalf of the three parties he represents – the Schluntz sisters, Schluntz’s surviving spouse, and SBS Farms, which was an owner of the real estate but not a party to the violation proceedings that led to the ban.

He argued that the ban amounted to a “perpetual penalty” on the land, giving the people who currently own it no option for relief. In a January letter from Domina to LRNRD GM Todd Siel, he noted that “perpetuities” associated with real estate are not valid or enforceable.

At what point is enough enough?” Domina asked the board when speaking on how the daughters were not responsible for their father’s wrongdoing.

Siel stated the board would consider Domina’s comments and whether they will take any action.

Read the full story on the case and Domina’s comments here.