Water Use in Kansas
Water use data are essential for management of the state’s resources. Each owner of a water right or permit to appropriate water is required by law to submit a complete and accurate water use report every year. The annual report must be delivered to the Division of Water Resources’ Topeka office by March 1.
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. The information we collect is used by many agencies – the Kansas Water Office, United States Geological Survey, Kansas Geological Survey, groundwater management districts, Kansas Department of Revenue, county appraisers, and others.
Right: 1990 - 2008 Kansas Average Reported Water Use by Use Made of Water as reported to to DWR. Click image to view full graphic including water use table.
Kansas water users generally divert about 5 million to 6 million acre-feet per year of surface water and groundwater for beneficial uses – irrigation, power generation, public water supplies, industrial processes, stockwatering, and other purposes. This is about 1.6 trillion to 1.9 trillion gallons per year, enough to fill Milford Lake 14 to 17 times (not counting flood storage). This amount of water would cover one section of land 1.5 to 2 miles deep.In Kansas, about two-thirds to three-quarters of total water diverted is from groundwater supplies known as aquifers, and the balance is from surface water supplies including streams, reservoirs, and ponds.
Right: 2008 Kansas Water Use Summary - Total Diversions as reported to DWR. Click image to view full graphic, including water use summary table.
Ten percent to 20 percent of the diverted water is used for nonconsumptive uses such as hydroelectric power generation or once-through cooling at thermoelectric power plants. Nonconsumptive uses return water to the stream or aquifer from which it was sourced.
Eighty percent to 90 percent of the diverted water is used for consumptive uses – that is, uses in which all or most of the diverted water is evaporated, ingested, or otherwise permanently removed from the local source of supply.
On average, irrigation makes up 85 percent of the consumptive use of water in Kansas. This can vary significantly depending on weather conditions. Municipal (public water supply) is next, accounting for about 10 percent of total consumptive use of water in the state. The remaining 5 percent of consumptive water use is for industrial, recreation, stockwatering, hydraulic dredging and other uses.
Although the state population continues to increase, water use has trended down over time due to efficiency improvements and installation of water flowmeters, which generally provide more precise measurements than previous methods.
Right: Kansas Total Reported Water Use 1981-2009. Click to enlarge graph.
The 1990-2008 average total consumptive water use in Kansas was 4.3 million acre-feet per year. Based on a 2009 estimated population of 2.8 million people in Kansas (U.S. Census Bureau website), the average water consumption works out to about 1,380 gallons per person per day. This is slightly higher than the 2005 national average of 1,360 gallons per person per day (U.S. Geological Survey, 2009).
These per capita figures include the amounts for irrigation, industrial, and other uses of water, and are not the amount actually consumed by individuals and used for household purposes. The 2005 average water use for domestic purposes in Kansas was 81 gallons per person per day, below the national average of 98 gallons per person per day (U.S. Geological Survey, 2009).
Water Use Reporting is the Law
Currently, Kansas law (K.S.A. 82a-732 of the Kansas Water Appropriation Act) requires that all water right holders annually report water use information to the Chief Engineer of the Division of Water Resources (DWR). Reports are due back in the office of the Chief Engineer, by March 1. K.A.R. 5-14-11 further sets forth civil penalties for failure to file a complete and accurate report, in a timely manner.
Due to the volume of information DWR receives, it is imperative that a standard form be used. Also, a statute requires that the report be made on a form prescribed by the Chief Engineer. Because of the importance of filing the reports (under penalty of law) it is highly recommended that the reports be returned to the Division by CERTIFIED MAIL. This should help to ensure that the reports are filed as intended. If a flow meter is required by law, then meter readings and the metered quantity must be reported (See K.A.R. 5-3-5e).
Each year approximately 14,650 water use reports are mailed to water right holders in Kansas. Of these, approximately 93 percent are returned to the Chief Engineer before the deadline. This is a great improvement when compared to the 60 percent compliance rate before the state law required annual reporting. Compliance with the reporting requirement has drastically improved the state water use database yielding valuable information. This has resulted in Kansas having a superior water use database.
Water Use Correspondents
Property owners may also wish to designate another person to be the water use correspondent for a particular water right. Please see the water use correspondent designation form (pdf) below, which must be used to inform this office of a water use correspondent change. The form must be completed, signed, notarized and mailed to our office. Don't forget to include the appropriate file number(s) at the top of the form. The water use correspondent will be the only person to receive the annual water use report, but the law indicates the owner still is ultimately responsible for the water use report to be filed in a timely manner.
1-207-2 Water use correspondent designation form
Water Use Report Instructions
- Irrigation Example with Field Descriptions
- Municipal Water Use Report Example With Descriptions (Part A)
- Municipal Water Use Report Example With Descriptions (Part B and C)
- Common Meter Face Examples and How to Read and Accurately Report Water Use
Publications about Water Use
- Kansas Water Use Data Collection Fact Sheet
- 2010 Kansas Irrigation Water Use Publication
- 2010 Kansas Municipal Water Use Publication
- 2009 Kansas Irrigation Water Use Publication
- 2009 Kansas Municipal Water Use Publication
Water Use in the United States (National links from USGS)
If you have any questions, please contact Rich Eubank with the Water Use Unit, at (785) 296-1054.