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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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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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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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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Wheatland Water Conservation Area approved on 3200 acres

A water conservation area (WCA) for the Wheatland Electric Cooperative of Finney County is the latest WCA approval.  Anticipated water savings is approx. 1200 acre-feet per year on 3200 enrolled acres. We now have over 35,000 acres enrolled in WCAs with annual savings approaching 6000 acre-feet per year. For more: agriculture.ks.gov/wca

Tags: WCA, Finney, GardenCityFO, GMD3

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