Kansas Water Resources Consulting was founded during mid-2020, following the retirement of its founder, David Barfield, from his 35-year career with the Division of Water Resources (DWR), Kansas Department of Agriculture, including 12 years as its Chief Engineer.
Our goal is to leverage David’s training and experience in Kansas water resources, Kansas water law, and solutions development, dispute resolution, and his good working relationship with state and local officials, to assist waterusers, interest groups, and local government in meeting their water resources needs.
Our current practice is focused in two areas: 1) water right consulting for municipal, irrigation, and investment clients and 2) assisting groundwater management districts in water conservation, particularly in the development and implementation of Local Enhanced Management Areas (LEMAs).
Mr. Barfield is licensed to practice engineering in the State of Kansas. Mr. Barfield’s degrees include a BS in Civil Engineering and MS degree in Water Resources Engineering, both from the University of Kansas.
His 35-year career at DWR included a great deal of rewarding experiences. Below is a summary of some of that experience writing from his perspective. These accomplishments are not his alone, but the accomplishments of the team at DWR and others assisting in these important matters.
Highlights from Mr. Barfield’s career at DWR, 1984-2020
Mr. Barfield’s years at DWR included five years heading DWR’s dam safety program (1987-92), 15 years as an interstate engineer (1992-2007) and 12 years as Chief Engineer (2007-2020) responsible for the administration of some 30 laws and numerous programs related to the conservation, management, use and control of water in Kansas–particularly Kansas’s Water Appropriation Act, laws regarding the regulation of activities affecting the state’s watercourses and floodplains as well as representing the State of Kansas on several intrastate and interstate commissions.
Ogallala Aquifer Action
We have known about the problem of the declines in the Ogallala aquifer of western Kansas going back to the 1970s. While new development was slowed and eventually stopped in the late 1970s/early 1980s,
little has been done on the more difficult task of cutting back use of the overdeveloped resource. Working with water users and the legislature, we developed new tools to facilitate additional action to reduce pumping in the Ogallala, while providing flexibility to reduce use to assist in maintaining profitability. See KDA-DWR’s website for more on these new tools: https://www.agriculture.ks.gov/dwr
- Local Enhancement Management Area (LEMA) implementation (2012) – This allows groundwater management districts to initial plans to address declines in the Ogallala. Three LEMAs exist, two in northwest Kansas and a third recently approved in west-central Kansas with more under consideration.
- Multi-year flex account (MYFA) reform (2012 and following) – This tool provides for flexibility to use more than the annual authorized quantity in any one year, with a five-year limit to prevent expanded use. One of its values is encouraging multi-year management of the water resource.
- Water Conservation Area (WCA) implementation (2015) – This tool allows for consent agreement between wateruser(s) and the Chief Engineer to provide for water right flexibility to facilitate water conservation. As of early 2020, there are 27 approved plans covering over 86,000 acres, much of this focused on two problem areas: Finney County and the highly dewatered Wichita County.
Republican River Compact (RRC)
Mr. Barfield worked on RRC matters from 1992 to 2020. In 1992, over Kansas objection, Nebraska was continuing its over-development of its share of the basin’s water supply and we had no clear agreement on what the Compact meant or how to measure compliance. Two U.S. Supreme Court litigations, numerous non-binding arbitrations, and three intense periods of negotiations, resulted in clear, binding compliance requirements where both Nebraska and Colorado have compliance methods that work for Kansas.
The work gave him extensive experience in complex, interstate litigation including testifying as an expert witness in water administration before a Special Master appointed by the U. S. Supreme Court.
Further, it gave him experience in dispute resolution processes, both facilitated and unfacilitated. For example, during 2001-2003, Mr. Barfield led Kansas technical team working toward a settlement of our dispute with Nebraska. Ultimately that work resulted in the States reaching our “Final Settlement Stipulation,” approved by the U. S. Supreme Court. The Settlement included detailed accounting procedures developed by myself and my counterparts from Colorado and Nebraska, which remain the foundation of the current administration of the compact.
The final settlement also included a jointly developed groundwater model to determine depletions to streamflow from groundwater pumping. My experience on the model development team gave me a solid foundation for subsequent work related to the development and use of groundwater models and other technical methods to evaluate technical problems in water resources.
For more information: http://republicanriver.org/
Kansas – Colorado Arkansas River Compact (ARCA)
While Mr. Barfield was not involved in the 25-year U.S. Supreme Court litigation that started in 1984, he was involved in the implementation of the resulting Decree of the Court. This has included negotiation of numerous implementation agreements with Colorado including improvements to the H-I Model which measures Colorado compliance and providing Colorado with a new source of water for the John Martin permanent (recreation) pool in exchange for more certainty to Kansas on deliveries to our Offset account, and much more.
For more information: https://www.co-ks-arkansasrivercompactadmin.org/
Kickapoo Water Right Settlement
After years of litigation and disputes, the state, principally myself and team at DWR and legal counsel of
Kansas Attorney General’s Office, and the Tribe and its consultants, sat down to seek a quantification and settlement of the Tribe’s reserve water right. On September 8, 2016, Mr. Barfield had the privilege of signing, along with the Tribe’s chairman and legal counsel, and Governor Brownback and Attorney General Schmidt, the state’s first Tribal water right settlement in Kansas.
Additional matters receiving attention during Mr. Barfield’s career at DWR are listed below, with additional information available on KDA-DWR’s web site (https://www.agriculture.ks.gov/dwr):
- Promoted the development and use of groundwater models in Kansas for DWR water resources decision making. This has included the use of groundwater models to make or revise safe yield determinations in the Ozark aquifer, the lower Arkansas River basin, and northwest Kansas, as well as their use in impairment investigations and to support action in the Ogallala aquifer.
- Development of detailed procedures for evaluating disputed change applications in the declining Ogallala.
- Impairment investigations in groundwater – we developed a set of regulations to improve our processes for conducting these complex evaluations transparently with input from others.
- Quivira National Wildlife Refuge impairment claim – After a significant investigation, we completed our final Quivira impairment report and have been working with GMD5 and others to develop an appropriate remedy for the impairment.
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