KDA notice – During the week
of September 30, the Chief Engineer sent all affected water users notice of the
KDA-DWR plan to regulate water rights as part of the remedy of the impairment
to the water right held by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its Quivira
National Wildlife Refuge in south central Kansas on Rattlesnake Creek. The
letters included summaries of water use for those water rights and a preview of
what to expect from the anticipated administrative orders. The notice was sent
to help water users prepare for the expected issuance of orders.
Public meetings – On Monday, October 21, 2019, KDA hosted two public meetings in St. John related to the proposed administrative orders (which are now NOT moving forward, see below). The two-hour meetings included informational presentations from KDA staff and a significant period of questions and answers. To access links to the slides and archives of the live stream videos of each session, see: https://www.agriculture.ks.gov/Quivira.
Current status – Just prior to the meeting, on Friday, October 18, 2019, the Kansas Department of Agriculture Division of Water Resources (KDA-DWR) was informed that the United States Department of the Interior, which oversees the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), wishes to work with the local leadership of the Rattlesnake Creek region to renew efforts to find a locally-driven solution to the impairment of the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge operated by the Service before requesting action by KDA-DWR to protect their water right.
In Kansas, an impaired water right must file an annual request to
secure water before administrative action will be taken to reduce water use by
the junior water rights impacting the senior water right. The Service had
previously filed a request to secure water for 2018 and 2019, but KDA-DWR had
not taken any action on those requests as efforts to solve the impairment
through voluntary efforts were ongoing. Since
2016, KDA-DWR worked with the Big Bend Groundwater Management District No. 5
(GMD 5) to develop a remedy to the impairment. Despite many efforts, a solution
has not yet been reached and negotiations to voluntarily solve the impairment broke
down over the past year.
As the Dept. of Interior on behalf of the Service has stated their intention not to file a request to secure water at this time, the administrative orders will NOT be sent.
It is important to note that this does not change the science or the
law regarding the water issues in the region. The Quivira water right is still
being impaired, and any locally-driven solution will likely still need to involve
an augmentation project and pumping reductions.
KDA-DWR encourages all water users to be actively involved
with local leadership as they work together with the Service to find a solution
to the impairment. KDA-DWR is hopeful a solution that fulfills the needs of the
Quivira National Wildlife Refuge will be found. However, if a solution is not found
and the Service files a request to secure water in the future, state law
requires that KDA-DWR take the appropriate action.
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