Kansas Drought Information
The Kansas Water Office is responsible for establishing guidelines to identify drought conditions and for notifying the governor when those conditions exist. The governor is authorized to proclaim when a state of drought exists, and that declaration affects the implementation of drought contingency plans, including those for state facilities.
The governor also is responsible for meeting the dangers to Kansas and its inhabitants when confronted with disasters, including drought. He accomplishes this by activating the Governor's Drought Response Team, which includes representatives from the:
Kansas Water Office
Kansas Division of Emergency Managment
Kansas Department of Agriculture
Kansas Department of Administration
Kansas Department of Health and Environment
Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks
Kansas State Fire Marshall
Kansas State University
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
USDA Farm Service Agency
The governor also may proclaim a state of disaster emergency due to drought when a community or area is unable to independently address a water shortage. County commissioners ask for the proclamation, and the governor works with the Kansas Division of Emergency Management to verify the crisis. After the proclamation is made, different agencies work together to haul water, locate water, protect water quality, etc. This type of aid does not include a direct payment or loan program.
Services Provided by the Kansas Department of Agriculture
The Kansas secretary of agriculture works closely with the governor and her staff to keep them up-to-date on the drought''s impact on agriculture. The secretary may recommend communicating with the Kansas congressional delegation, the U.S. secretary of agriculture, or the president, on matters regarding drought and federal aid.
The Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service, a cooperative venture involving the Kansas Department of Agriculture and the National Agricultural Statistics Service, compiles information to quantify the extent of drought statewide, which is reflected in weekly crop weather reports.
Plant Protection and Weed Control staff regularly conduct surveys of plant pests and diseases that may be attacking Kansas crops to help keep farmers alert to problems that can be treated. The agency may even ask for approval to use a particular pesticide to address unusual circumstances. For instance, a low-input pesticide may be needed to combat grasshoppers on rangeland if drought conditions permit the pest to become established.
The Division of Water Resources manages the state''s water supplies and is prepared to offer help in times of drought:
DWR processes long- and short-term permits for water use. In times of emergency, staff work with cities, rural water districts, industries and irrigators to help them determine if alternate sources of water are available. They can approve emergency and term applications, when possible, and they will work in any way they can to help find other sources of water.
If an irrigator has another source of water, like a large farm pond that could be used in times of drought, DWR will determine if that use can be authorized.
The field office water commissioners have a standing delegation of authority to quickly approve replacement wells if an irrigator is hit with a cave-in or other problem with a well.
DWR notifies junior water right holders to stop water use when minimum desirable streamflow is not being met. Field staff monitor compliance. Penalties for noncompliance could include restraining orders, injunctions or possibly criminal prosecution through county attorneys.
Under minimum desirable streamflow conditions, DWR will work with water right holders to find solutions that are within the parameters of current rules and regulations. For example, someone with a junior right may be able to change the use of a senior right to use a different well, as long as it doesn’t result in more overall water use.
Water Structures staff are part of the State Hazard Mitigation Team, which advises the Kansas Division of Emergency Management about the need for hazard mitigation grants from the Federal Emergency Management Administration. Drought is a component of this determination.
Srvices Provided by Other State Agencies
The Kansas Water Office issues a drought report every Thursday. The report is a summary of information provided by agencies that serve on the Governor''s Drought Response Team. It includes information about Kansas streamflow, lake levels, crop and pasture conditions, and river basin conditions.
The Kansas Department of Transporation issues hay harvest permits every year, not just during drought. The permit allows an individual to harvest hay from alongside state highways for up to a year. Those with land adjacent to a right-of-way are given permit priority from January 1 until March 31. After that, permits are issued in the order they are received.
Information Provided by K-State Research and Extension
K-State Research and Extension knows that drought conditions make many haying and grazing options dangerous because of high nitrate or prussic acid concentrations. The Extension Service has on its website a number of publications that describe the problems and management tips to minimize the risk.
Hay and Pasture
The Kansas Farm Bureau, in cooperation with Kansas State University''s Research and Extension, is operating an online Hay and Pasture Exchange that allows individuals with hay or pasture supplies to connect with individuals with hay or pasture needs.
USDA's Farm Service Agency HayNet serves as an electronic bulletin board where ranchers in need of hay can find critical information about the nearest supply.
Crisis Management for Producers
Several programs help farm and ranch families work through difficult times:
The Kansas Rural Family Helpline provides free confidential support to rural families struggling with unmet emotional, medical, financial or legal need. Call (866) 327-6578.
Kansas Agricultural Mediation Services provides low-cost financial counseling and legal assistance. Call 1 (800) 321-3276.
WORKS -- Work Opportunities for Rural Kansans -- is a statewide program helping farmers, ranchers and their families find work off the farm or ranch. The program is through Kansas Legal Services. Call (785) 233-2068 in Topeka; (620) 272-5919 in Garden City, or (785) 625-4514 in Hays.
Kansas AgrAbility is a part of a national network of programs that inform, educate and assist farmers and farm families who have disabilities. Call 1 (800) 526-3648.
Other Drought-Related Websites
National Drought Mitigation Center
U.S. Drought Monitor
Climate Prediction Center
Kansas Rangeland Fire Danger Rating Map
The GreenReport by the Kansas Biological Survey
Kansas Applied Remote Sensing Program
U.S. Geological Survey
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
For a summary of federal disaster relief programs, please see Procedures for Emergency Federal Assistance.