Water Management Services
The Water Management Services Program conducts a variety of administrative and technical activities related to water resource issues. The program is grouped into several teams: Interstate Water Issues, Technical Services, Basin Management Team and Operations and Data Management.
Interstate Water Issues
The chief engineer represents the State of Kansas on four interstate compacts pertaining to the apportionment of waters in rivers which flow through Kansas and one or more other states. These compacts are as follows: Republican River Compact (Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska); Kansas-Colorado Arkansas River Compact; Kansas-Oklahoma Arkansas River Compact; and the Big Blue River Compact (Kansas, Nebraska). The Interstate Water Issues (IWI) staff assists the chief engineer in highly technical data collection, analysis and modeling to determine whether Kansas and neighboring states are in compliance with the compact terms, and what actions are needed.
The chief engineer also serves as Kansas' representative to the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee; alternate Kansas representative to the Missouri River Association of States and Tribes; and lead Kansas member in the Western States Water Council.
Headgates to an irrigation ditch on the Arkansas River in southwest Kansas
Map of four interstate river compact areas in Kansas and neighboring states
The Kansas-Colorado Arkansas River Compact and decree do not quantify the apportionment of water to each state. Instead, they establish operational requirements for John Martin Reservoir and accounting procedures for water use affecting stateline flows.
Kansas v. Colorado
The Kansas-Colorado Arkansas River Compact was negotiated in 1948 between the States of Kansas and Colorado with participation by the federal government. Its stated purposes are to settle existing disputes and remove causes of future controversy between the States of Colorado and Kansas concerning the waters of the Arkansas River and to equitably divide and apportion between the states of Colorado and Kansas the waters of the Arkansas River as well as the benefits arising from John Martin Reservoir.
|Kansas filed Kansas v. Colorado, No. 105, Original, in 1985 to enforce the terms of the Arkansas River Compact. In 1994, Special Master Arthur L. Littleworth recommended that the Supreme Court determine that Colorado had violated Article IV-D of the Arkansas River Compact by means of post-compact well pumping in Colorado. On May 15, 1995, the United States Supreme Court agreed. As the result, Colorado paid Kansas more than $35 million in damages for Colorado's compact violations during the period 1950 through 1999, and legal costs. Some of this money will be used for water conservation projects in the affected area, the Upper Arkansas River basin in Kansas.|
The Special Master submitted his Fifth and Final Report to the United States Supreme Court in January 2008, including the Judgment and Decree. Kansas filed an exception related to a limitation on awarding costs imposed by the Special Master. Colorado has filed a response. The Special Master's Fifth and Final Report and the Kansas Exception are currently before the Court.
A History of Conflict
The final decree is intended to end over 100 years of litigation, including U.S. Supreme Court cases in 1902, 1907, 1943, and 2004.
The Judgment and Decree was jointly developed by Kansas
and Colorado based on decisions by the Special Master and
the United States Supreme Court. The Hydrologic-Institutional Model and accounting procedures are included which will be used in the future to determine if Colorado is in compliance. Kansas staff and technical experts will monitor Colorado's efforts on an annual basis. Each year, the accounting for the prior 10-year period will be reviewed. The Special Master found that Colorado was in compliance for its first 10-year compliance period (1997-2006). Based on the data available to date, it appears that Colorado will be in compliance for the second full ten-year compliance period (1998-2007), although there are differences which will be reviewed by both States to see if agreement can be reached.
At this time the states are awaiting the Court's acceptance of the Fifth and Final Report and its ruling on the Kansas exception to the limitation imposed on the awarding of costs incurred in this case.
Kansas v. Nebraska and Colorado
The Republican River Compact apportioned 100% of the estimated available water as follows:
In 1943, Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas entered into the Republican River Compact to divide the entire virgin water supply of the Republican River basin. The Republican River basin includes portions of eastern Colorado, northwest Kansas and southwest Nebraska. The Republican River eventually flows though portions of north-central Kansas to Milford Reservoir.
In the early 1980s, Kansas and Colorado stopped allowing new groundwater irrigation to be developed in the basin. Nebraska, however, continued to allow wells to be drilled. In the mid-1980s, Kansas began to express its concern that Nebraska was not complying with the Republican River compact in several subbasins. In 1998, after many failed attempts to resolve the dispute, Kansas filed suit against Nebraska in the U.S. Supreme Court to enforce the terms of the compact. The State of Colorado was also a party to the lawsuit. That case was settled December 15, 2002, when the final settlement stipulation was signed by the states.
That stipulation was later approved by the Supreme Court. Since then, Kansas has waited patiently for Nebraska to come into compliance with the compact. Under the final settlement stipulation, 2006 was the first year to measure whether Nebraska complied with settlement terms for water-short years for the two-year period from 2005 to 2006. According to our calculations, Nebraska used 82,240 acre-feet more water than it was entitled to in 2005 and 2006. A city with 100,000 residents will take about 10 years to use 82,000 acre-feet of water. One acre-foot is equal to 325,851 gallons.
The settlement also specifies 2007 as the first year to measure normal-year compliance for the five-year period from 2003 through 2007. The accounting for 2007 is not done, but Nebraska's overuse from 2003 to 2006 is 143,840 acre-feet.
|During the years Nebraska overused its share of water in violation of the settlement terms, Kansas has not had adequate water for its Kansas Bostwick Irrigation District and mainstem Republican River users. Because Nebraska has failed to comply with settlement terms, in December 2007 Kansas demanded that Nebraska immediately shutdown wells within 2½ miles of the Republican River and its tributaries and on lands added after the year 2000, or their hydrologic equivalent. Additional actions may be needed for Nebraska to meet water-short year obligations until stream depletion caused by groundwater pumping decreases.|
Since it appears impractical for Nebraska to repay Kansas with water, Kansas has asked for monetary compensation for past shortages in an amount equal to Nebraska's gains or Kansas' losses, whichever is greater. Kansas is also seeking interest, attorney fees, costs and any other relief the court deems appropriate. Nebraska disagreed with Kansas' analysis and demands. As a result, in February 2008, Kansas requested the dispute be considered by the compact administration, the first step in a dispute resolution process prescribed by the settlement. The compact administration met in March 2008 to consider the dispute over Kansas' proposed remedy for Nebraska's overuse of Republican River basin water in 2005 and 2006 in violation of the compact and final settlement. At the meeting, Nebraska gave a presentation on its plan to reach compliance with the compact and settlement. Nebraska also provided information on its concerns with compact accounting and the analysis that underlies Kansas' proposed remedy. While Kansas has reserved the right to proceed with the dispute resolution process at any time, compact commissioners agreed to subsequent meetings to review these matters in more depth.
Colorado also must meet its first five-year test of normal-year compliance ending with 2007. Although data for 2007 is not yet available, Colorado exceeded its allocations for 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006, the first four years of the five-year period, by 44,270 acre-feet. Colorado provided information at the March 2007 meeting on its proposed compliance pipeline to offset depletions. Colorado plans to purchase roughly 15,000 acre-feet of existing consumptive use water currently used for irrigation in the North Fork Republican River basin. The water is to be pumped from 15 wells into a 12 and one-half mile long pipeline and delivered to the North Fork Republican River at the Colorado-Nebraska state line. Kansas' stance is that Colorado is overusing its South Fork Republican River allocation and must also take action to get into compliance on the south fork. The compliance pipeline proposal has been referred to the compact administration's engineering committee for review. Under the settlement terms, all three states must approve the proposal.
Kansas is both an upstream state and a downstream state in the Republican River Compact. Kansas is in compliance with the final settlement stipulation and to maintain this status has targeted both EQIP and WTAP (voluntary incentive programs to temporarily or permanently retire water rights) to the Prairie Dog Creek subbasin within the Upper Republican River basin.
Tech Services staff performs a wide variety of analytical and administrative tasks:
Number of Equipment Certifications:
Certifications change over time as new models are developed, so be sure to check with DWR before purchasing and installing equipment.
Monitors and assists in administration of minimum desirable streamflows
Assists in administration of the Big Blue River Compact and Kansas-Oklahoma Arkansas River Compact
Helps administer the Water Assurance Program Act
Reviews and certifies meter equipment specifications for conformance with rules and regulations
Provides technical assistance to the Chief Engineer in administrative hearings and Intensive Groundwater Use Control Area hearings
Conducts impairment investigations
Responds to environmental notification letters
Reviews water conservation plans required of applicants for new permits or certain changes to existing water rights for consistency with approved guidelines
Assists in review of complex water appropriation applications
Performs complex database queries and data analysis
Provides other technical assistance to accomplish the agency's missions
Basin Management Team
The team analyzes aquifers and stream systems in areas identified by the Kansas Water Plan, working with stakeholders to develop and assess strategies for protecting water rights and improving sustainability of water resources.
These efforts are focused on areas with stream depletions and groundwater declines. BMT forms cooperative, voluntary workgroups with participation from federal, state and local agencies, interest groups and the public. After studying the hydrologic conditions of each area, basin management team and the workgroups develop short-term and long-term management strategies, help to implement the strategies where applicable, and perform ongoing data collection and assessment.
Current project areas include the Upper Arkansas River Subbasin, Middle Arkansas River Subbasin, Rattlesnake Creek Subbasin, Solomon River Basin, Pawnee River Subbasin, Ogallala aquifer, and Ozark Plateau aquifers.
Basin Management Team collects data in project areas to assess hydrologic conditions. Data collection efforts include groundwater measurements three times a year, monthly, or weekly in some instances. Streamflow measurements are made to ascertain baseline conditions and trends in stream reaches where U.S. Geological Survey gages are not available. In addition, assistance with the annual groundwater level measurement program conducted by the Kansas Geological Survey to monitor the status of the Ogallala-High Plains aquifer is provided.
In 2008, the Basin Management Team completed reports showing groundwater and streamflow conditions in each project area as of 2007. The reports were disseminated to project workgroups and other individuals. There reports are available on DWR's website.
Increasingly, Basin Management Team's work involves collaborative development of computer models to analyze stream/aquifer systems and predict the system responses to various management strategies - including if no change is made. groundwater models are calibrated to existing stream and aquifer characteristics, reported water use, and climatic conditions before being used to run other scenarios. Technical Advisory Committees provide input on the model construction, which is subject to outside peer review. Modeling efforts have involved groundwater management districts, federal and state agencies, universities, municipalities, water associations, water users, and participants from neighboring states. Hydrologic models are widely recognized as the best available tools to make sound management decisions and allow us to maximize the beneficial uses of our water resources.
Voluntary Incentive Programs
The Basin Management Team, in partnership with federal and state agencies, has also been active in promoting and assisting with voluntary incentive programs for temporary and permanent retirement of water rights in water-short areas. These programs include:
- Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP)
- Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)
- Water Transition Assistance Program (WTAP)
More information on these programs is available on DWR's website. The Basin Management Team also distributes bi-annual newsletters, click the link to sign-up. In addition, DWR also distributes a weekly newsletter called DWR Currents.
There are over 30,000 active water rights in Kansas, and except for domestic rights they are all required to submit an annual water use report to DWR. Individuals with multiple water rights can report them on the same water use card.
Operations and Data Management
The operations section is responsible for management of the administrative activities of the division including staffing, budget development, procurement, contracts, facilities management, inventory, and database management. A data management team maintains the Water Rights Information System (WRIS) and the Water Structures Inventory (WSI) databases. This is integral for the Water Appropriation Program and Water Structures Program to make informed decisions related to their responsibilities, and to make timely and accurate responses to open record requests and other inquiries. The data management team is also responsible for the annual data entry and quality control of nearly 15,000 water use reports (many reports contain information on multiple water rights) and assisting the DWR programs with other administrative tasks.