September 30, 2011
Developing improvements to multi-year flex accounts
As highlighted in previous issues of the DWR Currents and in a fact sheet, in response to this year’s drought, two alternatives have been provided to allow producers authorization to pump beyond their annual limits: 1) multi-year flex accounts and 2) calendar year 2011 drought emergency term permits.
To date, DWR has accepted nearly 1000 drought emergency term permit applications but only one multi-year flex account (MYFA) application.
The division understands that producers are reluctant to agree to the statutorily required conservation factor which requires MYFA participants to cut 10% from historical reported water use. Because the 10% reduction is from historic use, producers see the conservation requirement as another type of “use it or lose it”. Yet, the division believes that the Legislature’s intent was to allow for flexibility without increasing overall water use. The conservation factor means that for the price of extending the life of the groundwater resource a little, the producer can enjoy the flexibility of the multi-year account. This is especially important in the portions of the state experiencing significant groundwater level declines.
As producers consider the possibility of lingering drought conditions, many are taking another look at the MYFA program. The chief engineer has said he will allow drought term permit holders to enroll in a MYFA if the water user agrees to make up the 2011 overuse within the terms of the 5-year MYFA. However, under the current law, this will require 10% conservation against the historical water use.
In response to producer feedback, options are being explored to make the program more workable while not aggravating the problems of groundwater level and streamflow declines in over-appropriated areas. Below are examples of what is being considered. We welcome all input as this is studied.
- The existing option, which includes a water conserving component, would be improved by allowing producers who re-enroll to a subsequent 5-year flex to carry over unused water.
- Add a new option based on the net irrigation requirements (NIR) for corn under average precipitation conditions. This is a way to avoid penalizing those who conserve water. In most areas, the NIR for corn is very near the long-term average water use. So while this alternative does not have a water savings component to it, it should not increase use of water over the long term. As there isn’t any water savings expected, this alternative would NOT have a carryover provision for re-enrollment in the MYFA program as above.
- Add the ability for a groundwater management district (GMD) to develop its own MYFA, as long as it does not allow for increased use over the long-term.
It is important to note that enrollment in a MYFA does not affect the base water right itself. While enrolled, the base right is suspended and the holder operates under a 5-year term permit that expires at the end of the enrollment period, unless renewed.
The draft legislation has been provided to the GMDs, stakeholder groups, and Ogallala Aquifer Advisory Committee for comment. A copy of the current draft is available, including the referenced table of NIR by county.
DWR issues perfection reminder notices
As required by the Kansas Water Appropriation Act, DWR is set to mail 380 certified reminder letters to water appropriation permit holders regarding their deadlines for perfecting water rights. The reminders generally pertain to those receiving an approval of application and permit to proceed during calendar year 2006, or other permit holders who have received extensions of time that expire in 2011. The law requires that the reminder notice must be sent to all parties with an interest in any property covered by the approved permit.
Perfection means actions taken by a water user to develop a water right by actually applying water to the authorized beneficial use in accordance with the terms, conditions and limitations of an approved application or permit. In many cases, permit holders may have fully perfected their water rights up to the maximum rates, quantities and authorized land. If so, the Chief Engineer will begin the steps necessary to issue a Certificate of Appropriation setting forth the extent to which the appropriation was perfected. If not, the permit holder may wish to submit a request an extension of time.
Perfection extension requests must include the following information:
- File number
- Progress made toward perfection
- For irrigation, the number of acres of land to which water has been applied during one (1) calendar year
- Reason why the appropriation has not been perfected
- Date by which it is anticipated the appropriation will be perfected
- Extension request filing fee ($100 per file number)
For those receiving the notice, the deadline for filing an extension request is December 31, 2011. Failure to request an extension of time will limit the permit holder to the extent that water was actually used during the authorized perfection period. The Kansas Water Appropriation Act requires the chief engineer to limit the perfection period to a reasonable time frame. Generally, the total time to perfect the water right, including extensions, shall not exceed 10 years, unless the permit authorizes municipal use.
Refer to K.A.R. 5-3-7 and K.A.R. 5-8-7 of the rules and regulations for the full requirements to qualify for an extension to perfect.
Wildcat Creek Watershed Working Group receives grant
Last June hundreds of Manhattan area residents evacuated their homes when an estimated five inches of rain in the Wildcat Creek basin north of Manhattan and the rising Kansas River caused flooding. In response, the City of Manhattan and Riley County established the Wildcat Creek Watershed Area Working Group to identify options and solutions to flash flooding property damage along the Wildcat Creek tributary during the last two years.
“Each of us has attended one of the meetings that have been taking place with the City of Manhattan regarding Wildcat Creek to offer technical assistance,” said Tom Morey, National Floodplain Insurance Program coordinator.
In addition, the U.S. Corps of Engineers with the assistance of Morey submitted a floodrisk management grant proposal that was recently funded. Part of the $134,000 grant, Morey said will be used to purchase water gauges and warning sirens. The gauges would be used to create flood inundation maps that would allow users to see the flooding progress in a more accurate assessment than current flood insurance maps.
- Sep. 30: Water and the Future of Kansas Conference
- Oct. 5: Floodplain Training - Grant Writing for Mitigation Projects
- Oct. 11: Equus Beds GMD No. 2 Board Meeting
- Oct. 11: Basics of the National Flood Insurance Program (El Dorado)
- Oct. 13: Basics of the National Flood Insurance Program (Salina)