The legislative declaration states “a need exists for the creation of special districts for the proper management of the groundwater resources of the state; for associated endeavors within the state of Kansas through the stabilization of agriculture; and to secure for Kansas the benefit of its fertile soils and favorable location with respect to national and world markets. It is the policy of this act to preserve basic water use doctrine and to establish the right of local water users to determine their destiny with respect to the use of the groundwater insofar as it does not conflict with the basic laws and policies of the state of Kansas”.
Eligible voter means any person who is a landowner or a water user as defined in this act except as hereafter qualified. Every natural person of the age of eighteen (18) years or upward shall be an eligible voter of a district under this act if (1) he or she is a landowner who owns, of record, any land or any interest in land, comprising forty (40) or more contiguous acres located within the boundaries of the district and not within the corporate limits of any municipality, or (2) he or she withdraws or uses groundwater from within the boundaries of the district in an amount of one acre-foot or more per year.
The funding for the district comes from either a land assessment not to exceed $.05 per acre or a water assessment not to exceed $2.00 per acre-foot for each acre-foot authorized under the water right. If the water user does not utilize the entire right, they may file a verified claim with the district prior to April 1st of each year certifying the actual amount of water used. The district may assess any combination of the land and water assessments.
Anyone that withdraws water for any use, other than domestic, is required to have a water right. The priority of the appropriation right to the use of water dates from the time of filing of the application in the office of the chief engineer. The priority of the appropriation right for domestic use dates from either the time of filing in the office of the chief engineer or from the time the user first makes actual use of water for domestic purposes. As between persons with appropriation rights, the first in time is the first in right.
A vested right means the right of a person under a common law or statutory claim to continue the use of water having actually been applied to any beneficial use, including domestic use, on or before June 28, 1945.
The water laws in Kansas are administered by the Division of Water Resources of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture. The chief engineer is the individual that is responsible for the conduct of this law.
The Division of Water Resources and the Groundwater Management Districts have the authority to develop rules and regulations as granted in the respective acts.