Gove County District Court finds GMD 4 LEMA constitutional

On October 15, 2019, the Gove County District Court upheld the Chief Engineer’s GMD 4 LEMA decision in Friesen vs. Barfield

This case was filed under the Kansas Judicial Review Act after a public hearing was held by the Chief Engineer and the subsequent adoption of the District Wide Local Enhanced Management Area (LEMA) in Groundwater Management District No. 4 in Northwest Kansas. The case was brought by multiple petitioners who are required under the LEMA Plan to reduce the amount of groundwater withdrawn over the next five-years. Petitioners challenged whether the reductions in water use can be made without those cuts being based on priority (date the water right was approved) and generally challenged the lawfulness of any cuts or use of a LEMA pursuant to K.S.A. 82a-1041.

In conclusion, the Court found that the “GMD4 District Wide LEMA should be upheld. The LEMA Plan restrictions do not appear to be unconstitutional on their face or as applied. There is substantial evidence backing the agency’s decision and therefore it is not arbitrary or capricious.”

For more information see: https://www.agriculture.ks.gov/GMD4LEMA

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Chief Engineer responds to Ag Organizations’ request to delay Quivira administrative orders

On Friday, September 20, 2019, Chief Engineer David Barfield replied to a letter from 10 agricultural and related organizations asking him to delay his plans to issue administrative orders related to Quivira for 2020 this fall as a first step in resolving the impairment. In his letter, he explained why he is moving ahead with the administrative orders, outlined steps being taken to provide water users with significant flexibility to use the allocations provided in the orders, and announced his decision to phase in orders over three years. 

The administrative orders will implement the first part of a three-part solution to the Quivira impairment consisting of: 1) limiting withdrawals across the basin to slow the ongoing growth of stream depletions, 2) the retirement or relocation of 4,400 acre-feet of use from the highest impact area near the stream to slow the growth of depletions in the shorter term, and 3) an augmentation project proposed by GMD 5. The second and third parts of the solution need to be developed by the basin over the next three years.

The letter announced a significant change in the Chief Engineer’s plan for the administrative orders, namely to phase in the orders over three years beginning in 2020 with junior water rights in Zone C (the area with a greater than 30% impact to the stream), then Zone B (greater than 20% impact) in 2021, and finally Zone A (greater than 10% impact) in 2022. See map attached to his letter.

KDA-DWR is working with local stakeholders to develop a Water Conservation Area (WCA) to allow for annual allocations in the orders to be pooled into multi-year allocations, moved between water rights, and with limited restrictions, transferred between water right owners enrolled in the WCA.

Notice of the specific allocations for each water right under the water administration plan will be provided to all water right owners and water use correspondence in the near future, with a public meeting in the effected within two weeks of the notices.

The Chief Engineer’s letter and a map showing the implementation areas is available https://www.agriculture.ks.gov/Quivira.

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Republican River Compact Administration to Meet August 22

MANHATTAN, Kan. — The Republican River Compact Administration (RRCA) will hold its annual meeting at 9:30 a.m. CDT on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019 at the Pioneer Memorial Library, 375 W. 4th Street in Colby, Kansas.

The RRCA meeting will focus on water-related issues and activities, including compact compliance, within the Republican River basin in Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska.

In addition, RRCA will hold a work session to prepare for the annual meeting at 3:30 p.m. on August 21, 2019, also at the Pioneer Memorial Library. Both the work session and the annual meeting are open to the public.

Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska entered into the Republican River Compact in 1943 to provide for the equitable division of the basin’s waters, remove causes of potential controversy, and promote interstate cooperation and joint action by the states and the U.S. in the efficient use of water and the control of destructive floods. The RRCA is composed of three commissioners representing Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska: Kansas Department of Agriculture, Division of Water Resources Chief Engineer David Barfield; Colorado State Engineer Kevin Rein; and Nebraska Department of Natural Resources Director Jeff Fassett.

Individuals who have questions regarding the meeting should contact Chris Beightel, KDA water management services program manager, at Chris.Beightel@ks.gov or 785-564-6659 for more information.

For additional information about the Republican River compact and this year’s annual meeting, please visit agriculture.ks.gov/RRCA.

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Chief Engineer’s action on GMD 5 LEMA plan and path forward on Quivira Impairment

On July 30, 2019, Chief Engineer David Barfield provided a formal response to GMD No. 5’s Local Enhanced Management Area (LEMA) plan aimed to resolve the Quivira impairment, stating he was unable to move forward with their request to initiate proceedings to consider the plan as it failed to include measures sufficient to meet its stated goal and other statutory requirements. After nearly two years of work on the LEMA concept, KDA and GMD5 have been unable to agree on a LEMA plan that resolves the impairment. The Chief Engineer’s letter can be found here.

In his letter, Chief Engineer Barfield also announced his intention to develop administrative orders by approx. September 1, 2019, to be effective January 1, 2020, to implement water use reductions in the basin to begin addressing the Quivira impairment, and in particular, the ongoing declines in streamflows (see below) into the Refuge with its reductions in water quantity and water quality.  These orders are the first of a three-pronged solution to the impairment, providing initial action to remedy the impairment, while providing time for the Basin to develop the other two components:

  • A proposed augmentation project.
  • The retirement of 4400 acre-feet of use in the high-impact area (Zone D).

To maximize flexibility in use, DWR will work with local water users to develop a Water Conservation Area (WCA) to create multi-year allocations and allow movement of allocations between water rights.

While required water use reductions will vary among water users based on the seniority of their water rights (with older rights getting larger allocations) and their historic use, the reductions will average under 15% from long-term use.

A public meeting is anticipated during mid-September.

A map of the affected area is shown below.

More information related to this matter can be found on the following websites:

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Garden City Company Water Conservation Area (GCC 2018 WCA) Approved by Chief Engineer

On July 22nd, Chief Engineer David Barfield approved a significant expansion to the existing Water Conservation Area (WCA) for the Garden City Company (GCC 2017 WCA, originally 7,170 acres).  This expansion will add an additional 15,580 acres to the new WCA. The two Garden City Company WCAs are the largest in the state with roughly 22,749 total acres combined and is planned to save approximately 2,900 acre-feet per year or a total of 14,720 acre-feet of water over the 5-year WCA terms of both WCAs.

A Water Conservation Area (WCA) is a simple, streamlined and flexible tool that allows any water right owner or group of owners the opportunity to develop a management plan to reduce withdrawals in an effort to extend the usable life of the Ogallala-High Plains Aquifer. WCA’s across the state are enrolled in about 80,827 acres and are saving 16,043 acre-feet (AF) per calendar year. Upon approval of The Garden City Company WCA, Finney/Kearny Counties are enrolled in about 47,000 acres and saving 10,868 acre-feet per calendar year.

For more information about WCA’s and how they can help you, please visit https://agriculture.ks.gov/divisions-programs/dwr/managing-kansas-water-resources/wca.

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Kansas–Oklahoma Arkansas River Commission Meeting July 25

The 55th annual meeting of the Kansas–Oklahoma Arkansas River Commission will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn, 205 SW Frank Phillips Blvd, Bartlesville, Oklahoma, on Thursday, July 25, 2019, at 9:30 a.m. Optional tours of regional interest will be available on Wednesday, July 24. Anyone interested in water-related activities within the Arkansas River Basin in Kansas and Oklahoma is encouraged to attend.

Kansas and Oklahoma entered the Arkansas River Compact in 1965. The purpose of the compact is to promote interstate comity, to equitably divide and promote the orderly development of the waters of the Lower Arkansas River Basin, to provide an agency for administering the waters of the basin, and to encourage an active pollution abatement program in each state.

The Commission is composed of three commissioners appointed by the governor of Kansas, three commissioners appointed by the governor of Oklahoma, and two commissioners appointed by the President of the United States.

Questions about the meeting, lodging options, and optional tours can be addressed to Chris Beightel, program manager for water management services at Kansas Department of Agriculture–Division of Water Resources, at 785-564-6659 or Chris.Beightel@ks.gov. Additional information about the Kansas–Oklahoma Arkansas River Compact and the annual meeting can be found on the KDA website at www.agriculture.ks.gov/KOARC.

WHO:            Open to the public

WHAT:          Annual meeting of the Kansas–Oklahoma Arkansas River Commission

WHEN:          Thursday, July 25, 2019, at 9:30 a.m.

WHERE:       Hilton Garden Inn, 205 SW Frank Phillips Blvd, Bartlesville, Oklahoma

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