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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