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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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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Quivira/GMD 5 updates: GMD 5 public meeting / Congressmen write U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

On August 27, GMD 5 held a public meeting on its Proposed Rattlesnake Creek / Quivira Local Enhanced Management Area (LEMA). GMD 5 has updated its web site at https://gmd5.org/proposed-rsc-lema to include the materials presented at the meeting as well as a video recording of the presentations and Q &A session.

Both Kansas Senators as well as two Representatives have written the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asking they provide technical assistance related to augmentation to support the basin’s efforts to find a remedy for the impairment.  The letter is posted on our web site at: http://www.agriculture.ks.gov/GMD5LEMA

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Response to Audubon’s letter on Quivira and feedback to GMD 5 LEMA plan posted

As reported earlier, on August 10, GMD 5 developed a new draft of its proposed LEMA plan to resolve the Quivira impairment complaint and on August 17, the Audubon of Kansas wrote a letter calling on both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Division to act immediately to remedy the impairment.  On KDA’s web site, we have posted our latest input to GMD 5 on their LEMA plan and a response to Audubon of Kansas on their request.  See  http://www.agriculture.ks.gov/Quivira and http://www.agriculture.ks.gov/GMD5LEMA

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GMD 5 updates proposed LEMA plan for Quivira impairment, plans August 27 public meeting

On August 10, GMD 5 developed a new draft of its proposed LEMA plan to resolve the Quivira impairment complain. GMD 5 plans to host a public meeting to discuss the plan on August 27 (see gmd5.org/calendar for details.  The revised plan as well as KDA feedback on their July draft plan is at agriculture.ks.gov/GMD5LEMA

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