Groundwater Management Districts
We support the Kansas Groundwater Management District (GMD) Act which gives local water users a voice in determining the use of groundwater. Provisions of the act relating to governance, powers and authorities, and statutory parameters for the Board of Directors composition should continue to apply to all GMDs uniformly. Any changes regarding assessment mechanisms should not be a disadvantage to agricultural producers.
We support efforts to ensure that policies or guidelines of a GMD are only applicable once they have been finally adopted as a regulation through the rule making process.
Kansas Water Authority
We support the statutory authority granted to the Kansas Water Authority to make recommendations to the Governor and the legislature to manage the waters of Kansas. The Authority should be responsible for coordination and approval of all changes proposed for the Kansas Water Plan. We encourage all farmers and ranchers to actively participate in the review process and recommendations modifying or expanding the Kansas Water Plan.
We support the grassroots efforts of the 14 Regional Advisory Committees (RACs) to develop and review all proposals in the Kansas Water Plan. The Kansas Water Plan should be driven by the grassroots efforts of the Regional Advisory Committees; the Kansas Water Authority should encourage participation in the RACs and follow the recommendations of the RACs.
We support the initiatives and appreciate the leadership by the State of Kansas in protecting the interests of individual Kansas Water right holders through negotiations and administration of the Blue River, Republican River and Arkansas River Compacts. We encourage negotiations with the State of Missouri for a Kansas City Metropolitan Stormwater Management Compact and the Tri-State Water Resources Coalition.
The Kansas Water Authority and the legislature should re-examine the weather modification program. The benefits of any cloud seeding for rainfall enhancement or from hail suppression should be determined. The review should include the funding mechanism and the views of citizens in the area affected by the program.
Kansas Water Plan
The Kansas Water Plan is a blueprint for planning, managing, conserving and utilizing the waters of the state. The Kansas Water Plan, developing and evolving under the direction of the Kansas Water Authority and the Kansas Water Office, is for the benefit of all Kansans and should be funded by all Kansans through the State General Fund or dedicated statewide revenue source.
We support the Kansas Water Plan Fund for cost-sharing of land treatment for highly erodible lands and riparian areas, construction of livestock waste management facilities, grazing land management, plugging abandoned wells and upgrading rural septic systems.
The Kansas Water Plan should promote conservation of water by all users. We urge the Kansas Water Authority to incorporate into the Kansas Water Plan a strong conservation ethic and methods to extend the life of this limited resource.
We encourage the Kansas Water Authority to carefully examine all options for addressing concerns regarding management of the High Plains-Ogallala Aquifer. Any management proposal should be submitted for public comment and ensure the protection of individual water right holders. Any proposals should not place Kansas water users at a disadvantage in relation to water users in other states.
We support monetary compensation awarded in interstate water compact settlement agreements be used first to pay litigation expenses and secondly for projects in the impacted areas.
Rural Water Districts
We recognize the benefits of Rural Water Districts and support funding at both the federal and state level for construction and repair of Rural Water District facilities.
State Water Appropriation
Kansas farmers and ranchers recognize the importance of securing a Kansas water right as provided by law. We will continue to protect vested and appropriation water rights.
State laws must provide for the protection, development and administration of water rights to protect individual ground and surface water right holders consistent with their priority. The withdrawal of recharge credits from an aquifer must not take precedent over, nor impair existing water rights.
We support the concept of water flex accounts to provide water right holders greater flexibility in water utilization and profitability while at the same time protecting the source of supply and respecting existing water rights.
When water shortages occur in any area of the state, water rights should be administered in strict adherence to their priority as set forth in the Kansas Water Appropriation Act. In over-appropriated areas where voluntary, incentive-based programs and regulatory enforcement are not practical or effective, then stakeholder driven management plans should be developed that can meet groundwater use goals without negatively impacting local economies or disadvantaging senior water right holders. If management plan goals diminish investment backed expectations, then due compensation should be given to those water rights holders.
In areas considered over-appropriated, we recommend industries and units of government procure water appropriation rights from willing sellers. We oppose units of government
t using eminent domain actions to acquire appropriation rights.
We support the implementation of Intensive Groundwater Use Control Areas (IGUCA) as an alternative, if strict administration of water rights would result in a significant negative impact to the local economy or be ineffective in protecting senior water rights. State agencies may be called upon to provide factual information, but should not be party in any IGUCA proceedings. An unbiased individual, with equivalent expertise to that of the Chief Engineer, should serve as hearing officer during the IGUCA proceedings; if no equivalent individual exists, then the Chief Engineer may serve as hearing officer.
All existing and future IGUCAs should be reviewed periodically. The review should examine all aspects of the IGUCA, including its effectiveness, and the need for continuation or discontinuation of any corrective controls.
We will strongly oppose any attempts to diminish the use of agricultural soil and water conservation practices and structures, such as terraces and grassed waterways, in order to make more water flow in our streams and rivers.
We support continued focus by the Division of Water Resources to expedite processing, approval and certification of water appropriation permits.
Water rights should not be jeopardized even if the water allocation authorized is not fully exercised.
The funding of the Division of Water Resources should be primarily through a general fund obligation rather than increasing permit fees.
State Water Banking and Marketing Programs
Any programs that purchase water rights or create water banks should be voluntary, provide financial incentives to landowners, contain a strong conservation component, protect the economic infrastructure of communities and preserve the revenue base for schools and local units of government.
Water placed in a water bank should stay within the boundaries of that specific water bank as defined at the time of deposit.
Kansas law should allow agricultural water rights holders to voluntarily participate in any state/federal controlled water storage, assurance or similar programs.
Prior to the Kansas Water Office entering into any agreement with the federal government proposing to deviate from the standard release schedule set forth in any lake operations manual, the resulting economic impacts upon agriculture and the surrounding communities must be fully studied and publicized.
We support state authority to regulate water quality under the federal Clean Water Act. We also support the current state exemption of certain private waters from water quality standards.
We support a complete listing of waters whose quality is better than the state standards.
The process of developing water quality standards should encourage more stakeholder participation and input from the entities being regulated.
We support ongoing research and data collection necessary to protect and enhance water quality in Kansas. The legislature should increase funding for Kansas State University for its science-based research projects in Best Management Practices (BMPs), which will assist in water quality protection.
We urge the legislature to require that surface pipes of all producing and disposal wells shall be set to a depth sufficient to protect all fresh water formations from contamination.
We urge the legislature to provide adequate funding to assure that existing statutes and regulations relating to salt water disposal and proper plugging of dry holes are being enforced.
The Kansas Corporation Commission and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment should determine that the method of disposal of salt brines will not contaminate fresh water. If there is a known salt brine contaminated area within a fresh water source, the scientific proven approaches to remediate the affected area should be followed to clean up or prevent the further spreading of the contaminated areas.
No well drilled on leased property should be used for disposal of salt water from wells on other property without consent from and compensation to the landowner. The power of eminent domain should NOT be granted for the purpose of salt brine disposal.
A state plan to test private water wells must provide confidentiality and protect homeowners and farmers from liability. Any plan to enter the test results of any private water wells into a state water quality database should be voluntary. Development of a "cost-sharing" plan could increase participation.
Water Transfer Act
The Kansas Water Plan should contain farsighted, well-conceived, cost-effective and carefully controlled use of international, interstate and intrastate transfers of water to benefit agricultural producers and all other Kansans.
We support the Kansas Water Transfer Act. Water transfers must be administered in conformity with the unbiased protections as set forth in Kansas water transfer law and insure that the source of supply from which water would transfer is stable and not in persistent decline.
We request that funding for approved watershed structures, furnished by the state and supervised by the State Conservation Commission, be increased from existing State Water Plan revenues to facilitate and encourage this needed statewide flood-control and water quality program.
In order to expedite planning and construction of watersheds, we urge the legislature to consider permissive legislation authorizing the levy of one mill on the valuation of potential watershed areas to create a watershed trust fund. The levy should be authorized for a period of time not to exceed two years. A watershed trust fund, and the annual interest earned from such trust fund, should be used for expenses involved in planning new watershed projects.
Buildings that existed as well as development within the inundation zone of a watershed dam prior to the construction of a dam should not cause the upgrading of the dam from its original classification.
Those developing land within the inundation zone of a pre-existing watershed dam must be responsible for any additional costs to the watershed district for required upgrading of a dam.
We support Watershed dam breach inundation zone mapping. Landowners with property located within mapped inundation zones should receive notice of the breach zone boundaries. This notice should attach to the property deed and be recorded at the Register of Deeds office. Risk of casualty and/or property damage subsequent to this notice should be borne by the landowner who is building. The legislature should adopt policy eliminating damage liability for the Watershed District and state agencies in instances where development occurs below an existing Watershed dam after appropriate notice has been given. All water retention structures must be adequately designed, built and maintained to prevent the loss of life and property in the event of catastrophic failure.
We do not support development of statewide zoning to address the issue of dam classification.
Wetland conservation has an important role. At the same time, any wetlands proposal or plan should recognize that wetlands are not all equal in value or function.
The term "wetlands” should be defined in statute, not in rules and regulations. The proper definition of a “wetland” is a naturally occurring area of not less than two acres of predominantly hydric soils, which presently support hydrophytic vegetation, and in its natural state is saturated or flooded during 80 percent of normal growing seasons. A “normal growing season” shall mean a growing season with average weather conditions.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) should be authorized to make final decisions on wetland designations and regulations for all agricultural land, both cropland and rangeland, based on advice and recommendations from the State Conservation Commission and the 105 Conservation Districts.
Landowners should be permitted to restore existing drainage structures where floodwaters have deposited silt, which prevents adequate drainage of cropland currently under production.
Wetland protection programs should emphasize economic incentives to farmers and ranchers rather than acquisition and perpetual easements.
Normal farming operations should be allowed to continue on prior converted and farmed wetlands. Such prior converted farmland should be permanently removed from jurisdiction of agencies administering regulations based on Sec. 404 of the Clean Water Act.
We oppose the designation or mandatory conversion of productive farmland to expand or develop wetland projects.