WESTERN KANSAS GMD NO. 1 PROTOCOL
The 2001 Kansas Water Authority report to the Governor and State Legislature recommended the development of state policy that serves to sustain the replenishable portions of the State’s groundwater, provide transitional guidance when the groundwater starts to become exhausted, and delineates the Ogallala portion of the High Plains aquifer into subunits.
The Western Kansas Groundwater Management District No.1 has been directed by the Ogallala Aquifer Management Advisory Committee to develop an aquifer protocol to delineate the aquifer into aquifer sub-units. The purpose behind this is their feeling that the GMD’s have focused mainly on conservation and education issues and need to develop a more sophisticated management approach. This committee and the Technical Advisory Committee were formed by the Kansas Water Office to provide options and recommendation to the Kansas Water Authority for inclusion into the State Water Plan. br>
This district was selected by the TAC as an area to test different approaches to delineate aquifer sub-units. It was the feeling of the TAC that a geo-statistical clustering method would provide the best data. A number of different clustering parameters were used ranging from five to fifteen. As a part of this District’s protocol, this clustering methodology will be utilized.
As a first step in defining the protocol to be used in this district, we will work with the Kansas Geological Survey in determining which clustering definition will be used. It is anticipated that the clustering exercises will focus on current saturated thickness, current changes in the water table, and existing water right development (average reported use and authorized quantities. Other secondary data parameters may also be included such as the distribution of vested water right development and aquifer characteristics. The next step that will be taken is to request that an update of the section level database is made. Once that has been done, sub-basins will be delineated based on similar hydrologic conditions. Once a series of clustering definitions have been developed, they will be reviewed and modified by the District so that the aquifer subunits are of appropriate size for expanded and focused management considerations.
The next step in this process will be to prioritize these sub-basins in high, medium and low priority areas. The priority ranking will be based on the premise of comparing the current amount of available water in storage to existing water demands. When completed, the Management Program of the district will be modified to reflect this information. This should be accomplished by early 2005. Once the high priority areas have been designated, additional verification of data will need to be made prior to goals being established.
After the verification of data has been completed, the board will hold public meetings in
each of the high priority areas to advise, listen and develop water use goals. Once the goals have been established, the Management Program will again have to be revised to include the programs selected. Some of the options to be discussed will include:
a) Enforcement of the existing water appropriation act
b) Water right buy-back or some other retirement program
c) Mandatory flow meter requirement of all wells
d) Intensive Groundwater Use Control Area, or some other special management option developed by the local stakeholders.
e) Assistance in the conversion to dryland farming
It is anticipated that this might be accomplished in 2006 unless additional time is required
to verify aquifer data. Once the goals have been selected and the data verified the board should be able to begin the implementation process. One of the primary concerns will be the socioeconomic impact this program will have on these areas. At some point in time, a water budget needs to be developed to see if we are achieving our goals.
It should be kept in mind that as the information changes or is updated, the priorities may change as well as the time frames for completion.
WATER PLAN PROJECT INITIATIVE
FROM THE KANSAS WATER OFFICE
Water projects that will make short and long-term differences in the lives of Kansans are ready to be put into action by the state’s water agencies and partners. The Water Plan Projects Initiative sets out projects to conserve and extend the life of the Ogallala-High Plains aquifer, protect and restore Kansas watersheds, assure coordinated water infrastructure development and trim debt for water storage in federal reservoirs.
“We must act now if we want to assure future generations of the luxury of abundant water and natural resources we now enjoy,” says Steve Irsik of Ingalls, chair of the Kansas Water Authority. The Water Plan Projects Initiative addresses 13 water resource issues and will be financed through the State Water Plan Fund, contingent on its restoration to its authorized funding level.
The Ogallala – High Plains aquifer initiative is designed to conserve and extend the life of the aquifer through management by aquifer subunits, so that management decisions can be made for local conditions. An incentive-based pilot program, the Irrigation Transition Assistance Program, would provide grants to irrigators who voluntarily convert to non-irrigated land use in high priority, water-short areas. The 2004 Kansas Legislature enacted legislation that allows the purchase of water rights and their permanent dismissal. The State Conservation Commission is charged with developing and implementing the pilot program.
A related project is control of invasive salt cedars and other non-native vegetation in the stream corridors that rob the aquifer of valuable recharge water. Another is development of irrigation management plans that will reduce the salt and selenium levels of Arkansas River water in Colorado and, in turn, Kansas.
The State Water Plan’s Watershed Protection and Restoration Strategy, or WRAPS, is a process designed to bring together members of the watershed community to identify watershed needs and goals, develop cost effective strategies and put them into action. Flood control, wildlife habitat and recreation complement water quality as WRAPS’ goals.
The regional public water supply strategy initiative looks broadly at Kansans’ drinking water needs. Strategies are being developed to make the best shared use of limited resources. It may mean voluntary system interconnections, voluntary water district boundary adjustments, shared treatment facilities, shared accounting or water district mergers.
Funding for the projects will come from the State Water Plan Fund. Unfortunately, it has been tapped since the beginning to pay for projects once funded by the State General Fund. The Kansas Water Authority recommends that the State start to reverse that trend this legislative session by restoring the demand transfer to the State Water Plan Fund from the State General Fund and returning two programs – Aid to Conservation Districts and stream gaging – to the State General Fund balance sheet. The total increased funding for these projects, $3.8 million, would be made available without increasing fees or taxes.
The Kansas Water Authority is a 24-member board made up of gubernatorial and legislative appointees representing various water interests. It provides advice to the Governor and members of the Legislature on water policy.
For more information on the Water Plan Projects Initiative, check out (At your option: Web address for your group) or www.kwo.org on the internet, or call the Kansas Water Office at 785-296-3185. “Water—Your Resource for Life.”
WATERSHED RESTORATION AND PROTECTION
PROTECTING WATERSHEDS PROTECTS OUR DRINKING WATER SUPPLIES
Watershed restoration and protection (WRAPS) is about watershed stakeholders working together to develop a watershed community. The community will identify problems, set goals and develop a cost-effective plan to achieve those goals. A watershed’s stakeholders include everyone that has an interest in the watershed from watershed residents and businesses to local, state and federal government.
The benefits of an effective watershed protection plan go far beyond water quality. Other benefits include flood control, wildlife habitat enhancement and recreation.
“A watershed is like a puzzle and the various stakeholders’ interests are the pieces,” says Don Snethen, chief of the Watershed Management Section of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s Bureau of Water. “When all of the pieces are put together, the collective benefit to the watershed, the state and the nation in the short and long-term will be immeasurable.”
Enhanced support is needed to ensure that WRAPS projects are implemented in priority watersheds to protect or restore water quality and extend the useful life of water supply reservoirs.
REGIONAL PUBLIC WATER SUPPLY STRATEGIES
WORKING TOGETHER TO SOLVE COMMON PROBLEMS
The regional public water supply strategy initiative looks broadly at Kansans’ drinking water needs. Strategies are being developed to help make the most efficient and economical use of limited resources. This may mean voluntary system interconnections, voluntary water district boundary adjustments, shared treatment facilities, shared accounting or water district mergers.
Among all the regional water issues, one of the most challenging is in southeastern Kansas where people depend on the Ozark Plateau aquifer and Spring River that flows from Missouri through Kansas and into Oklahoma. The water quality and quantity problems are due in part to rapid development in Missouri that rely on the same river and aquifer system. Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma officials are exploring the possibility of cooperative efforts to manage the region’s water resources.
OUR WATER INVESTMENT FUTURE DEPENDS ON SPENDING MONEY NOWS
Kansans face payments of more than $100 million for water supply storage that will be needed in the future. In the 1970s, farsighted Kansans recognized the need for water in the now densely populated eastern Kansas where more than one-half of the state’s population lives. The State of Kansas contracted to buy storage in federal reservoirs, including Milford, Perry, Big Hills and Hillsdale, from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Balloon payments on these contracts will come due between now and 2042.
“The most practical solution, although also the most politically sensitive solution, is to set aside money throughout the term of the contract to pay for the liability at term,” says Tracy Streeter, acting director of the Kansas Water Office. “Historically, funds that have been set aside for a future purpose, have found their way to pay for more immediate needs.”
Another capital development idea that many say is long over due is the greater use of the state’s river resources for recreation. Plans call for building an access point on the Kansas River between Manhattan and Topeka.
PAYING THE BILL—RESTORATION OF THE STATE WATER PLAN FUND
Projects once funded by the State General Fund need to be funded that way again.
The State Water Plan Fund, created in 1989, is the financial engine that was designed to pay for the kinds of projects in the Water Plan Projects Initiative. Unfortunately, it has been tapped since the beginning to pay for projects once funded by the State General Fund. The Kansas Water Authority recommends that the State start to reverse that trend this legislative session by returning two programs to the State General Fund balance sheet. They are Aid to Conservation Districts administered by the State Conservation Commission and the stream gaging program operated by the U.S. Geological Survey.
The Water Authority also recommends restoring the full demand transfer from the State General Fund to the State Water Plan Fund. This would bring the total of additional funding for the Initiative projects to $3.8 million.
“We must make the critical decisions today to positively affect the short and long-term water needs of all Kansans,” says Irsik. “If we fail to do so, today’s water resource challenges will become tomorrow’s water crises.”
For more information on the Water Plan Projects Initiative, check out www.kwo.org on the internet, or call the Kansas Water Office at 785-296-3185.