March 17, 2011
- Amendments to K.A.R. 5-21-4 would close Western Kansas Groundwater Management District No. 1 to new appropriations of water in the portions of the unconsolidated aquifers commonly known as the Ogallala formation and the Niobrara formation that are located within the district.
- Amendment to K.A.R. 5-7-1 would add a condition for due and sufficient cause for non-use under a water right if water use is temporarily discontinued because a contract between the water right owner and a groundwater management district exists committing the owner to forego use of water authorized by a water right for a definite five to ten-year period to conserve water, if the contract is tied to the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Environmental Quality Incentive Program.
Below: Detail from a map titled “Water Right Development in Kansas” by Kansas Geological Survey, showing GMD 1 (light green) overlying most of the Ogallala aquifer containing some saturated thickness (brown) in Wallace, Greeley, Wichita, Scott, and Lane Counties in western Kansas. Water right wells are depicted as red dots. Another map by KGS shows that most of this portion of the Ogallala aquifer within GMD 1 has less than 50 feet of remaining saturated thickness.
The Kansas Legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules and Regulations had conducted a hearing regarding these proposed amendments on March 1. Barfield noted that the committee submitted a letter expressing support for the rule changes.
A representative of GMD 1 testified in favor of amendments to K.A.R. 5-21-4, noting that the district’s board had approved the language.
The chief engineer received written comments from three individuals regarding the proposed amendments to K.A.R. 5-21-4: one in support of the amendments, one opposed to the amendments, and one commenting on unrelated information.
The chief engineer received written comments from one individual suggesting that the proposed amendments to K.A.R. 5-7-1 should be applied to more limited geographical areas.
Barfield commented that he will delay action on the amendments to K.A.R. 5-7-1 until the Legislature either enacts or elects not to enact the provisions within Senate Bill 191, which would restore the Water Rights Conservation Program and eliminate the need for the proposed regulatory amendments in K.A.R. 5-7-1. We will inform Currents readers when this outcome is known.
Pending final approval by Barfield and Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman, the amended K.A.R. 5-21-4 will be adopted effective 15 days after publication in the Kansas Register. We will inform Currents readers when this occurs.
Legislative Update: Continued Progress on Water Resources Bills
Committees and chambers conducted hearings and acted on a number of water resources bills over the past week including several bills profiled below:
- SB 124 (Lower Smoky access district): This bill is aimed at authorizing a district for downstream water right owners to benefit from releases from state storage in Kanopolis Reservoir during times of low natural flows. The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee recommended passage of the bill as amended in the Senate. Next step: consideration by the House committee of the whole.
- SB 191 (water rights conservation program): This bill would authorize a fee to restore the program, which provides due and sufficient cause for nonuse of enrolled water rights. The Senate is anticipated to pass the bill this week as amended in the Natural Resources Committee. Next step (if passed): introduction in the House.
- HB 2272 (exempting minor stream obstructions from prior approval): This week the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee amended and approved SB 214 (redefining “person” in the Groundwater Management District Act) to include substitute language for HB 2722 that basically allows stream obstructions at locations draining less than 640 acres (one square mile) in rural areas to be constructed without prior approval of the chief engineer if the location is at least 300 feet from adjoining property lines. The chief engineer would have authority to require actions if these stream obstructions cause adverse impacts to public safety or other properties. Next step: consideration by the House committee of the whole.
- HB 2357 (Arkansas River gaging fund): This bill would allow the Kansas Department of Agriculture to fund the state’s share of operation and maintenance costs for streamgages in the Arkansas River and in irrigation ditches fed by the Arkansas River. Funding would be generated by royalties from the state’s oil and gas leases in Hamilton, Kearny, Finney, Gray and Ford Counties. The House made amendments to cap the fund at $75,000 and allow any surpluses after funding the gages to be used for livestock market reports and bluestem pasture reports. The bill is anticipated to pass the House this week. Next step (if passed): introduction in the Senate.
A water resources bill summary on our website provides links to 14 bills being tracked by DWR, along with a brief description of each bill and its status.
KDA testimony on bills, as well as KDA reports and presentations to the legislature, are also available on the agency website.
Upcoming Flood-Related Training Events
DWR’s Floodplain Management Unit is offering four training events in April related to the National Flood Insurance Program.
Samuelson will lead training about elevation certificates and letters of map amendment on April 5 in Wellington and on April 14 in Great Bend. This course is designed for community officials responsible for administering floodplain management and also for land surveyors and engineers who complete the related forms. The four-hour training provides instruction on accurately completing Federal Emergency Management Agency technical forms, building diagrams, base flood levels and flood maps.
Steve Samuelson will also provide two training events titled “Basics of the National Flood Insurance Program,” on April 12 in Ottawa and on April 21 in Wichita. This training is targeted to local officials and new floodplain managers, or experienced floodplain managers who need a refresher course. The training focuses on the history of the National Flood Insurance Program, reasons for floodplain regulations and basic tools of floodplain management.
Right: Sketch showing basic elements of a riverine floodplain. From “Kansas Quick Guide” by DWR. Click to enlarge image.
“This training is funded through federal grants,” said Samuelson. “Part of our mission is to provide this kind of education and outreach to local communities and the professionals who serve them. It’s an important component of promoting flood-ready communities.”
These training events are provided to participants free of charge. However, we ask participants to preregister so we have a head count for choosing the right size meeting room and adequate training materials. To register or ask questions about these training opportunities, please contact Steve Samuelson at (785) 296-4622 or email@example.com.
- Mar. 29-31: Kansas Rural Water Association Conference (Wichita), Lane Letourneau and Katie Tietsort of DWR to present on Mar. 31
- Apr. 5: Elevation Certificates and Letters of Map Amendment Training (Wellington)
- Apr. 12: Basics of National Flood Insurance Program Training (Ottawa)
For more information about these and other upcoming events, please check our online events listings.