Hays Russell R9 Ranch change applications contingently approved

On March 27, 2019, the chief engineer contingently approved the change applications submitted by the cities of Hays and Russell to convert the irrigation rights of the R9 Ranch in Edwards County to municipal use for the cities. The documents approving the water right changes include a 53-page master order as well as 32 individual change approvals and other attachments and exhibits.  The master order includes the Chief Engineer’s summary and review of the pertinent public input received regarding the change application decision.

Documents posted on KDA-DWR web site related to this action (https://www.agriculture.ks.gov/HaysR9) include the chief engineer’s transmittal letter, the final Master Order contingently approving the cities’ change applications, a one-page summary of the matter, and more. Unless the order is challenged, the next step will be initiation of the water transfer proceeding.

Background

The City of Hays purchased the approximately 7,000-acre R9 Ranch and its thirty water rights in southwestern Edwards County in 1995 with the intention of someday using the water as part of the Cities of Hays and Russell’s water supply.

During June 2015, the Cities of Hays and Russell (Cities) submitted applications to KDA-DWR to change the use made of water from irrigation to municipal use for the R9 Ranch water rights. As these proposed changes envision moving greater than 2,000 acre-feet more than 35 miles, during January 2016, the Cities submitted an application to transfer water from Edwards County to the Cities pursuant to the Water Transfer Act (K.S.A. 82a-1501, et seq.). The water transfer proceeding is not initiated until the transfer application is complete, which includes the contingent approval of change applications.

During May 2018, a draft proposed master order and exhibits were transmitted to GMD5 for its review and posted on this website, along with the change applications and amendments. A public information meeting was held on June 21, 2018 to discuss the applications. GMD5 provided a recommendation on August 28, which was supplemented on September 14; WaterPACK provided additional responses on August 21 and 13; and the cities provided responses on September 14 and 18.

Approval provisions

The irrigation rights of the R9 Ranch include 32 water rights covering 56 points of diversion with a total authorized quantity of 7647 acre-feet/year for irrigation. Because only the consumptive use portion of the water rights can be changed from irrigation use to municipal use, the total authorized quantity is being contingently reduced to a maximum of 6,756.8 acre-feet/year.  In addition, the Chief Engineer has imposed a 10-year rolling aggregate limitation of 48,000 acre-feet (an average of 4,800 acre-feet/year), based on the reasonable long-term yield of the R9 Ranch water rights.  The master order includes prescribed reporting and monitoring requirements and also includes a delayed effective date, among other conditions. 

As a result of the public process, the following key revisions to the initial proposed approval documents were made by the Chief Engineer and incorporated into the issued Master Order: provisions that would have allowed the 10-year rolling aggregate limitation potentially to be dropped in the future were removed; a provision was added that requires a public hearing prior to any increase of the 10-yearrolling aggregate limitation; a water quality component was added to the Cities’ monitoring plan; and a minor error in the cities’ groundwater modeling was identified and corrected.

Next step

The next step is to initiate the water transfer proceedings under the Water Transfer Act. The water transfer panel will consist of the Chief Engineer, the Director of the Kansas Water Office, and the Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment or the Director of the Division of Environment. A hearing officer will be appointed who will hear testimony. At issue at the hearing will be whether it is in the state’s overall best interest to allow the Cities’ requested transfer of the water. The process of the water transfer proceedings is anticipated to take 1-  2 years.

Tags: HaysR9, changes, water transfer, StaffordFO, GMD5, StocktonFO

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Wichita ASR matter delegated, March 26 hearing postponed

On March 19, 2019 Chief Engineer Barfield delegated to Constance (Connie) Owens the authority to serve as the presiding officer in the matter of considering Wichita’s proposed changes to its Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) project, postponing the formal phase of the public hearing previously scheduled for March 26, 2019. Hearing Officer Owen will conduct a hearing among the formal parties and provide written recommendations to the Chief Engineer based on the record after such hearings are complete. 

A new date for the formal phase of the hearing will be announced in the near future.

KDA-DWR web site related to Wichita’s proposed changes to its ASR has been updated with the parties’ filings (expert reports, motions), as well as the latest orders from the Chief Engineer. https://www.agriculture.ks.gov/WichitaASR

Tags: ASR, GMD2, StaffordFO, Wichita, Equus Beds

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KDA–DWR Exceeds Goals in Online Water Use Reporting

As 2019 began, the KDA-DWR initiated a statewide effort to assist water users in online filing of water use reports, in an effort to save resources and improve efficiency. As the March 1 deadline to file the 2018 annual water use reports passed, KDA–DWR found that 86 percent of all total water use reports were completed online, representing 91 percent of all water rights in the state. This greatly exceeded KDA’s expectations. Last year only 27 percent of water use reports were filed online.  

For the 2018 water use reporting period, KDA implemented a $20 per water right paper fee for those water right holders that reported their water use using the paper forms, while the online reporting option was free to the water users. Less than 8 percent of total water users submitted their reports in paper form this year, compared to nearly 73 percent last year.  

The online water use reporting system has been in use by KDA-DWR and under continued development by the Kansas Geological Survey for the last six years. The system cuts down on staff time required to collect, enter and review data from the paper reports, allowing the division to share the data faster with other agencies and organizations. The program continues to receive useful input regarding the online filing system and will keep developing it to be more user friendly in future years.  

Efforts to increase the use of the online reporting system involved instructional videos as well as meetings and individual upport from KDA staff, especially at KDA field offices in Garden City, Parsons, Stafford, Stockton and Topeka. In addition, the outreach efforts were supported by several partners across the state, including the Kansas Rural Water Association, staff at KGS, Natural Resources Conservation Service offices, local irrigation companies, and groundwater management districts.  

This success of the online water use reporting system will be a great benefit to the state, as it will improve efficiency in collecting and reviewing water use data. Water use data is essential for management of the state’s resources. Each owner of a water right is required by law to submit a complete and accurate water use report every year. This process ensures that the people of Kansas — and officials responsible for managing or monitoring water resources — have access to complete information about how water is used. For more information about water use reporting, contact KDA–DWR at 785-564-6640 or visit agriculture.ks.gov/WaterUse.

Tags: wateruse, field offices, GMDs





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Formal hearing for Wichita ASR proposals set for March 26

The formal phase of the public hearing on proposed modifications to the permitting of Wichita’s existing Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) project will be held on March 26, 2019, continuing to March 27 if needed. The public hearing will be held at ICM, Inc. 125 N. 1st Street, Suites 2 and 3, Colwich, KS.

While this phase is principally for the former parties, it is open to the public and verbal comments from the public will be accepted at 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m on March 26.

Wichita’s proposal, a brief summary, public comments received to date including transcript of the December 11 meeting, and more available on the KDA’s web site at https://www.agriculture.ks.gov/WichitaASR

Tags: ASR, GMD2, StaffordFO, Wichita, Equus Beds

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Court of Appeals rules on Garetson impairment case

On January 11, the Court of Appeals issued its ruling regarding the Haskell County groundwater impairment case of Garetson Brothers vs. American Warrior Inc. The decision is posted on KDA’s web site at: https://www.agriculture.ks.gov/divisions-programs/dwr/water-appropriation/impairment-complaints/vested-right-haskell-03, along with a previous Court of Appeals’ decision, the District Court’s decision, and Chief Engineer reports on the matter.

This decision upholds the permanent injunction issued by the Haskell County District Court against pumping by the nearby junior water rights found to be impairing the Garetson Brothers’ senior water right, rejecting the defendant’s procedural challenges.

tags: legal, impairment, GMD3, GardenCityFO

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GMD 5 proposed update to management program approved

On Jan 2, 2019, the Chief Engineer found the Big Bend Groundwater Management District (GMD) No. 5’s proposed update to its management plan to be consistent with state law and policy and thus approved it. The next step required in the GMD Act is a public hearing held by the GMD board on the proposed update. It is expected the GMD Board will consider the matter of setting the hearing date and location at next week’s regular board meeting (see gmd5.org for specifics on their meetings).

The Chief Engineer’s transmittal letter with his approval makes several suggestions for the Board to consider in its next update to the Management Program. The letter and proposed management plan update is at: https://www.agriculture.ks.gov/gmds.

Note: the Management Program should not be confused with GMD 5’s LEMA proposal to address the Quivira impairment. See https://www.agriculture.ks.gov/GMD5LEMA for these matters.

Tags: GMD, GMD5, StaffordFO

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