November 4, 2010
Water Conference Focuses on Sustainability
The theme of the 27th Water and the Future of Kansas Conference in Topeka last week was “Sustainable Water Resources Management: Assuring the Future.”
Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Josh Svaty was among the state leaders and visionaries who spoke in the opening session. Svaty’s talk, “The Structure of Sustainability,” provided an overview of the complementary roles that several state agencies have in administering state laws enacted to protect the state’s water resources.
“Kansas is fortunate to have a solid legal framework for managing water resources, and our agencies do tremendous work with very limited funding,” says Svaty. “However, with increasing competition for water and decreasing water availability, the problems are becoming more complex and costly. Shoring up Kansas’ water supplies for the future will require a renewed commitment, including investments.”
Chief Engineer David Barfield spoke at the conference as well, leading a session about “Defining Sustainability for the High Plains Aquifer.” Barfield’s talk, “Increasing Effective Action Toward Sustainability in the Ogallala of Western Kansas,” included an overview of resource development, limitations on new development of the aquifer, and steps being taken or needed to move toward sustainable use.
“With improved mapping and computer models, we’re learning more about the aquifer and have better decision-support tools,” says Barfield. “Moving forward, we need to remove disincentives to conservation and implement strategies that reduce water use while preserving economic activity. For example, economists tell us that reducing the inches of water applied to irrigation has less impact to economies than conserving the same amount of water through reducing irrigated acreage [due to the diminishing economic return for each inch applied in irrigation].”
Right: A slide from Barfield’s presentation shows that the benefits of Ogallala water conservation stay local. Click to enlarge image.
Rich Eubank, head of DWR’s water use unit, participated in the poster session. Eubank exhibited posters showing the amounts of water diverted for various uses in each county and water use trends over time. Kansas is a recognized leader among states for collecting and analyzing water use data.
DWR Issues Completion and Perfection Notices
It’s that time of year, when DWR reminds water right owners or water appropriation permit holders about deadlines for completing diversion works and perfecting water rights.
Completing diversion works involves installing a well or surface intake, pump, meter and other appurtenances. Failure to complete diversion works within the allotted time results in forfeiting a water appropriation permit.
Perfecting a water right involves applying water to beneficial use within the authorized rate of diversion, authorized quantity and place of use. Successful perfection results in a water right certificate.
The Kansas Water Appropriation Act requires DWR to issue these reminders. These notices generate a flurry of activity at both headquarters and field offices, as water right or permit holders often request assistance in determining whether to file an extension of time or fill out a completion form between now and December 31.
This fall, DWR issued a total of 735 reminders:
- 356 End of Time to Perfect Notices, mailed October 8
- 188 End of Time to Complete Notices (for new permits), mailed October 15
- 191 End of Time to Complete Notices (for change permits), mailed October 29
In November or December, DWR will issue notices to water right or permit holders who have three consecutive years of reported nonuse. The number of those notices is unknown at this time.
A description of regulatory requirements for water right or permit holders receiving these notices was provided in the October 2009 DWR Currents. The “Kansas Handbook of Water Rights” also provides guidance on these issues.
Chief Engineer Adopts GMD 5 Rules
Chief Engineer David Barfield has approved regulation changes to accommodate Big Bend Groundwater Management District No. 5’s removal of end guns from participating center pivot irrigation systems in the Rattlesnake Creek subbasin and to delete the check valve requirement for certain wells in the district.
The amended regulations will be published in the Kansas Register on November 4 and go into effect on November 19.
More information about these regulations was reported in the October 27 DWR Currents.
GMD 2 Requests Metering Rules
Last week, DWR received a formal recommendation from Equus Beds Groundwater Management District No. 2 for amendments to the district’s water flowmeter regulations, primarily in K.A.R. 5-22-4a. The proposed changes would require unmetered wells in the district to be equipped with a water flowmeter over a four-year schedule based on the quarter section in which a well is located.
A phased schedule spreads the cost to owners of multiple wells and also makes it possible for the district to conduct technical assistance and compliance checks with limited staff.
This proposal complements a number of meter orders issued by DWR to require water flowmeter installation on unmetered diversions in various areas of the state. More than three-quarters of nondomestic water diversions are currently metered, and we are working to get the remainder metered as soon as possible.
After review by DWR and any edits necessary to put the amendments in proper form, we will submit the proposed regulatory amendments to the Kansas Attorney General’s Office and Kansas Department of Administration for their review and edits. Then the chief engineer will conduct a public hearing of the proposed regulations. We will issue a public notice and inform Currents readers when the public hearing is scheduled.
Drying Continues in Kansas
The dry conditions that have persisted for weeks in western Kansas continue to worsen, and eastern Kansas is feeling the effects as well. On November 2, 2010, the U.S. Drought Monitor designated 32 percent of Kansas – encompassing all or parts of 34 western counties and all or parts of seven southeast counties – as “abnormally dry.”
Right: Kansas detail map of November 2, courtesy of the U.S. Drought Monitor. Click to enlarge image.
This is a significant increase from the Drought Monitor of October 19, which delineated abnormally dry conditions in 19 percent of Kansas.
Soil moisture anomaly data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for the end of October 2010 show soil moisture in southwest Kansas at 30 percent of capacity, or soil moisture deficits as much as 40 mm below normal.
In addition to low soil moisture, the October 26 Drought Monitor cited below-average precipitation – less than 40 percent of normal precipitation over the past 60 to 90 days – for the abnormally dry conditions in western Kansas.
The good news? “Abnormally dry” is the low end of the Drought Monitor’s dryness scale.
Unfortunately, the National Weather Service’s outlook for this week predicts continued drier-than-normal conditions across the central U.S.
- November 4-5: Kansas Water Authority Meeting (Beloit)
- November 4: GMD 4 Board Meeting (Colby)
- November 9: GMD 2 Board Meeting (Halstead)
- November 10: GMD 3 Board Meeting (Garden City)
- November 11: GMD 5 Board Meeting (Stafford)
- November 16: GMD 1 Board Meeting (Scott City)
For more information about these and other upcoming events, please check our online events listings.