GMD 4 Manager, Ray Luhman, retires after 40 years of service

On June 28, 2019, Ray Luhman retired as manager of the Northwest Kansas Groundwater Management District No. 4. Ray had worked for GMD 4 for 40 years, joining as assistant manager in 1979, and serving as manager since 2015. Ray has been a large part of the service provided by the District to its water users and a strong and effective advocate for the sensible water management of the District.  In his years as manager, Ray led his district through the process of establishing the first, and thus far only, groundwater management district-wide local enhanced management areas (LEMA) in the state.

The success of GMD 4’s two LEMAs was greatly attributed to the water users’ trust in Ray. Visit the GMD 4 LEMA website or go directly to GMD 4‘s website to learn more.

Congratulations and best wishes to Ray.

Photo by Jeff Tuttle/The Journal (Kansas Leadership Center)

 

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Municipal Water Use in Kansas, 2017 published

KDA-DWR in cooperation with the USGS has published the 2017 version of the annual Municipal Water Use in Kansas report. This summary report includes gallons per capita per day and unaccounted for water calculations by public supplier and regional areas for the state. The document can be accessed at the bottom of the page here: www.agriculture.ks.gov/WaterUse

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Judicial Review of GMD 4’s district-wide LEMA fully briefed

On June 13, 2018, a petition for judicial review of the GMD 4 District-wide Local Enhanced Management Area (LEMA) orders was filed in Gove County District Court along with a notice disputing the validity of K.S.A. 82a-1041 (the LEMA statutory provisions).  The case has now been fully briefed by the parties and is awaiting a decision by the Court. Copies of the briefs are available on KDA’s web site in the table titled Friesen vs. Barfield at:  https://www.agriculture.ks.gov/GMD4LEMA.

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Recent Studies provide more evidence on Sheridan 6 LEMA success

The Sheridan 6 Local Enhanced Management Area (LEMA) is the state’s longest existing LEMA, initially approved for the 5-year period 2013-2017, and subsequently approved for the period 2018-2022.  Two recent studies on the LEMA have been added to KDA-DWR web page devoted to the LEMA at: www.agriculture.ks.gov/SD6LEMA.

Dr. Golden of KSU issued his final report, “Monitoring the Impacts of Sheridan County 6 Local Enhanced Management Area,” dated 11/15/2018. The study found the irrigated area within the LEMA was largely unchanged despite the significantly reduced wateruse with some changes in cropping, although corn is still dominate. The study included voluntary reporting on farm income with a limited number of responses. The responses received indicate irrigation operations remain as profitable as before, apparently due to reduced input costs.  Dr. Golden also cites that the fact that the producers asked for the LEMA to be extended as evidence of continued profitability.

A group of Michigan State researchers along with KU’s Jim Bulter, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, had their research report titled “Quantifying irrigation adaptation strategies in response to stakeholder-driven groundwater management in the US High Plains Aquifer” published last month in Environmental Research Letters.  Below are a few quotes from the paper’s abstract:

  • Socio-ecological systems research suggests that management of common pool resources like groundwater would benefit from localized approaches that combine self-organization along with active monitoring.
  • Here, we assessed the efficacy of the first LEMA implemented from 2013 to 2017 using a causal impact methodology based on Bayesian structural time series that is new to agrohydrology.
  • Compared to control scenarios, we found that the LEMA reduced water use by 31% over the five-year period, with early indications of stabilizing groundwater levels.
  • We found that farmers were able to largely maintain irrigated area and achieved the majority of pumping reductions (72%) from improvements in irrigation efficiency, followed by expansion of crops with lower water demand (19%).
  • The results of this analysis demonstrate that conservation programs that are irrigator driven with regulatory oversight can provide a path toward sustainability in stressed aquifers.

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Big Blue River Compact Meeting to Be Held May 15, 2019

The 46th annual meeting of the Kansas–Nebraska Big Blue River Compact Administration will be held in room 124 at the Kansas Department of Agriculture, 1320 Research Park Drive in Manhattan, on Wednesday, May 15, 2019, at 9:30 a.m. Anyone interested in water-related activities within the Big Blue and Little Blue River Basins in Kansas and Nebraska is encouraged to attend.   

The Kansas–Nebraska Big Blue River Compact was entered into in 1971. The purpose of the compact is to promote interstate comity, to achieve equitable apportionment of the waters of the Big Blue River Basin and promote the orderly development thereof, and to encourage an active pollution abatement program in each state.  

The Compact Administration is composed of a federally appointed Compact Chairman, currently W. Don Nelson of Lincoln, Nebraska; two state appointed representatives: David Barfield of the Kansas Department of Agriculture–Division of Water Resources and Gordon “Jeff” Fassett of th Nebraska Department of Natural Resources; and two citizen representatives: Sharon Schwartz of Washington, Kansas, and Larry Moore of Aurora, Nebraska.  

Questions about the meeting can be addressed to Chris Beightel, program manager for water management services at KDA–DWR, at 785-564-6670 or Chris.Beightel@kda.ks.gov. Additional information about the Big Blue River Compact and the annual meeting can be found on the KDA website at agriculture.ks.gov/big-blue-compact.

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Secretary Beam Declines Review of the Hays Russell Contingent Change Approvals

Following the Chief Engineer’s March 28, 2019 contingent approvals of water right 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, six requests for administrative review were received by Secretary of Agriculture Michael Beam within the time allowed.

On April 24 and April 29, Secretary Beam declined administrative review for all six requests for review of the chief engineer’s order. Those seeking administrative review have 30 days to request judicial review.  If none is received, the water transfer process will begin.  

Copies of the requests, the Secretary’s orders, and more are on DWR’s website at: www.agriculture.ks.gov/HaysR9

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