KRWA’s “The Kansas Lifeline” article highlights the work of DWR’s 5 Chief Engineers

Ken Kopp, Water Rights/Source Water Specialist with the Kansas Rural Water Association (KRWA), wrote an article for KRWA’s The Kansas Lifeline titled “DWR Chief Engineer Passes the Torch”, that details the lives and careers of the Division of Water Resource’s (DWR) five Chief Engineers, and in doing so, provides a history of DWR and the progress of laws that it administers. This article comes as the fifth Chief Engineer, David Barfield, prepares for his retirement on February 28, 2020.

You can read the article here:

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2019 Water Use Reporting Season Now Open

The 2019 Water Use Reports were mailed just before New Years. Water users must report usage by 5:00 p.m. on March 1, 2020 in order to avoid late fees of up to $1,000 per file number (excluding domestic use).

File Online at

Please note that submitting a paper water use report will require a $20 per water right per report paper filing fee (excluding domestic use). The filing fee can be avoided by reporting water use online.  

For help filing your report, contact your local field office or call 785-564-6638.

For more information about water use reporting, visit our website:

Important Note for Irrigation Water Use Reports

Irrigation paper reports will now be prescribed on 8.5″ by 11″ paper instead of the usual card stock. In January 2020, irrigators will receive the report in an envelope with “IRRIGATION REPORT ENCLOSED” printed on the front. Additionally, non-irrigation paper reports have experienced some minor updates. 

During the printing of the irrigation water use report, an issue appeared wherein many reports’ PIN numbers had extra spaces between the third and fourth digits. The image below shows an example of this issue.

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Kansas Chief Engineer to Retire on February 28, 2020

The Kansas Department of Agriculture announces that Chief Engineer David Barfield will be retiring from his position at the Division of Water Resources effective February 28, 2020. Barfield has been with KDA–DWR for 35 years, and has served as chief engineer since June 2007 where he has led KDA–DWR in its efforts to serve water users in the state within the framework of Kansas law including administration of more than 30,000 active water rights, four interstate water compacts, and the state’s program regulating dams and other water structures. Barfield led Kansas through decades of effort on interstate issues, including two U.S. Supreme Court litigations and years of negotiations, to reach agreements with Nebraska and Colorado to ensure Kansas received its share of waters of the Republican River. Similarly, he has led negotiations of numerous implementation agreements related to Kansas’ compact with Colorado on the Arkansas River and in reaching a water right settlement agreement with the Kickapoo Tribe to help the tribe develop a secure water supply for its needs. With regard to the ongoing declines in the Ogallala Aquifer, Barfield was involved in the development and implementation of several legislative initiatives to provide new tools to facilitate water conservation including Local Enhanced Management Areas (LEMAs) and Water Conservation Areas (WCAs). Two LEMAs have been approved in Kansas, and 27 approved WCA plans covering over 86,000 acres focus on several problem areas.

“I have particularly enjoyed the opportunity to serve the state of Kansas as chief engineer for the last 12 years, and I’m proud of the work we have done during that time,” said Barfield. “In addition to progress in interstate matters and the Ogallala, we have seen progress in developing technical methods to evaluate new applications and water right changes, and to monitor water use. I’m also pleased with the continued commitment to customer service and expanded public information.”

“I’m thankful for David Barfield’s exemplary service to Kansans,” said Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Mike Beam. “He’s fulfilled this important role with dedication, integrity and transparency while always being open to input from stakeholders. He leaves the Division of Water Resources with a firm foundation for the future of Kansas water.”

By state law, the chief engineer is employed under the classified service of the Kansas civil service act and selected and hired by the Secretary of Agriculture. Beam noted the search process for the next chief engineer will begin immediately. To learn more about the work done by the chief engineer and KDA–DWR, go to or call 785-564-6640.

Biographical Details
David Barfield graduated from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering in 1978. Following graduation, he worked for three years in consulting in Minnesota and three years in a developing nation of southern Africa as a water resources engineer. In 1984, he returned to Kansas and joined the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Division of Water Resources. Barfield earned a Master of Science in water resources engineering in 1991, also from the University of Kansas. At the Division of Water Resources, from 1984 to 1987, Barfield performed special studies to guide water management decisions; from 1987 to 1992, served as head of the Dam Safety Unit; and from 1992 to 2007 led technical efforts related to Kansas’ interstate water issues, primarily working on disputes regarding the Republican River, the Arkansas River with Colorado, and the Missouri River. Barfield has served as chief engineer since June 2007 (only the fifth chief engineer in the Division’s 85-year history). Barfield lives outside Lawrence with his wife of 40 years, Cathy. They have three grown, married daughters and five grandsons. Following his retirement, he plans to work part-time in water resources consulting. …

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Regulations adopted on behalf of GMD 1 and GMD 5

A public hearing regarding proposed regulations being adopted by the Chief Engineer on behalf of GMD1 and GMD5 was held on October 10, 2019. With no significant comments, the Chief Engineer had adopted the regulations, which will be effective 14 days after publication in the Kansas Register, approximately mid-November. 

At the request of Western Kansas GMD No. 1, K.A.R. 5-21-7, which has governed applications for a change in use made of water from irrigation to any other type of beneficial use based on past use, is being repealed. With the repeal, requirements for such changes will default to state-wide rules of K.A.R. 5-5-9, which were amended in 2017.

Based on discussions between KDA-DWR and Big Bend Groundwater Management District No. 5 (GMD5), three regulations were developed to assist GMD5 and the water users located therein, in finding a solution to the impairment complaint filed by the United State Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the senior surface water right for Quivira National Wildlife Refuge located at the bottom of Rattlesnake Creek. These regulations will assist in developing an augmentation project pursuant to K.S.A. 82a-706b and in moving water out of a high impact zone near the stream and refuge.

A complete set of laws and regulations related to KDA-DWR’s responsibilities can be found at:  …

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Quivira public meetings and current status

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:

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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