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GMD Groundwater Meeting Reports Water Legislation

Activities of the 2024 House Committee on Water

After a landmark year in 2023, when the House Committee on Water (HCOW) led the way in securing a
significant expansion in water funding via HB 2302 and greater accountability for the state’s groundwater management districts (GMDs) in HB 2279, the Committee continues efforts to move forward our state’s management of its water resources.


The Committee’s page is at: https://kslegislature.org/li/b2023_24/committees/ctte_h_water_1/. The page includes a list of committee members, links to bills in committee, agendas, testimony, and more.

A playlist of the videos of the Committee’s proceedings this year is available at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdmexZzhhB4&list=PLGnUWv2THZAj-TUBuTGmTzG3emG6yZD7h. As in past years, the Committee started the session with a series of briefings from state agencies.


GMD annual reports

In recent weeks, per last year’s HB 2279, the Committee received written reports from each of the state’s five GMDs, as well as oral testimony. Below is a listing of the dates of these hearings and links to their written reports, which includes a summary of their activities and financial information on each of the GMD’s assets, annual receipts, expenditures. and budget.


January 23: Western Kansas GMD 1 and Northwest GMD 4.
https://kslegislature.org/li/b2023_24/committees/ctte_h_water_1/committee_testimony/?selected_da
te=01%2F23%2F2024

January 25: Equus Beds GMD 2 and Big Bend GMD 5.
https://kslegislature.org/li/b2023_24/committees/ctte_h_water_1/committee_testimony/?selected_da
te=01%2F25%2F2024

January 30: Southwest Kansas GMD 3.
https://kslegislature.org/li/b2023_24/committees/ctte_h_water_1/committee_testimony/?selected_d
ate=01%2F30%2F2024


Hearing on HB 2459 (restricts changes in PDs)

On 2/1, the committee had a hearing on the unpopular HB2459, “Prohibiting the change of the point of diversion of a water right if such change causes the safe yield of the source of water supply to be exceeded.” Testimony regarding the bill, including mine, can be found at:
https://kslegislature.org/li/b2023_24/committees/ctte_h_water_1/committee_testimony/?selected_da
te=02%2F01%2F2024
.

Here is a short summary of the bill’s intent, testimony, and where it seems to be going:

  • The bill was proposed by a member of the committee, Rep. Kenny Titus, who wanted to highlight concerns he is hearing regarding changes in water right’s points of diversion (PD).
  • The bill had no proponents; 3 of us were neutral, mostly to say the bill sought to address real problems, even though all of us had concerns with the specific language of the bill.
  • All other testimony was opposed to the bill, mostly citing that changes in PDs are necessary; the bill is too restrictive; and the problem is best dealt with in regulations.
  • In the committee’s discussion after the testimony, Rep. Titus said he appreciated the views expressed and that his purpose in putting forward the bill was to highlight the concerns with PD changes. His remarks suggested that the best path forward was for the Chief Engineer (CE) to address the concerns expressed with regulations. Chairman Minnix’s remarks suggested that the bill will go no further in committee and also advocated consideration of concerns by the CE.

New Bills Introduced on February 1

At the Feb. 1 hearing, four bill introductions were made for bills currently being drafted by the Revisors Office. Here is my understanding of the subject of these introduced bills:

  • Rep. Howerton introduced a bill related to the meaning of K.S.A. 82a-1028’s power given to GMD to advise and assist the Chief Engineer.
  • Rep Vaughn, introduced two bills:
    • RS 2824 on the role of GMDs related to Water Conservation Areas and,
    • RS 2823 which would allow GMD members of a particular area within a GMD to petition to be removed from the GMDs.
  • Mr. Stucky, on behalf of GMD 5, introduced a bill which would amend provisions of Kansas Water Banking Act.

Coming the week of February 5, 2024:


On Tuesday, there will be a hearing on two bills:

  • HB2633 — “Providing for additional sources of revenue for the [KDHE’s] water program management fund and requiring water supply system and wastewater treatment facility operator certification examination fees to not exceed the costs for such exams.”
  • HB2634 — “Providing an additional corrective control provision for the chief engineer to consider when issuing orders of designations for local enhanced managements areas and intensive groundwater use control areas.”
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Legislature Meeting Reports Policy

Water News: House Committee, upcoming meetings, and Wichita ASR recommendation

My two-year anniversary of retiring as Chief Engineer of the Kansas Division of Water Resources is only a month away. Over that time, COVID has dominated the news and there has not been much in the way of water news.  That seems to be changing. Below are recent highlights and news of meeting to come. 

The House Committee on Water continues its work. The committee’s agenda for the coming week includes presentations from KDA’s Division of Conservation and the Kansas Assoc. of Conservation District on Monday, 1/24; a hearing on HB 2480 on Tuesday, 1/25; and presentations by Kansas Water Office & Kansas Water Authority on the Kansas Water Plan on Wednesday, 1/26.

Hearing on HB 2480 (definition of “water project”) – On Tuesday the committee will have their first hearing on legislation, HB 2480, which according to the Fiscal note “would remove the prohibition of water supply projects from using the Public Water Supply State Revolving Loan Fund if the projects involved a water transfer as defined by KSA 82a-1501, et seq.”  The bill was introduced by a Hays legislator to allow them to qualify for funding for which they are currently ineligible. 

Media attention – Last week, the Kansas Reflector published an article, reprinted in Kansas newspapers on the Committee’s work, featuring its considerations related to water quality, reservoir sedimentation, groundwater conservation, water funding, and water agency restructuring.  See https://www.kansas.com/…/politics…/article257337627.html.

HCOW webpage improvements – We have improved our index page for the Committee’s work at: https://kwrconsulting.com/blog/hcow2022/. In addition to presentation materials, there are links to videos of each of the hearings. The page also includes a summary of the week’s agenda at the top. For more frequent updates, follow us on twitter at @KWRConsulting.

Upcoming meetings:

The Kansas Water Authority is meeting on Thursday, 1/27, starting at 8:30 at the Ramada Inn in Topeka. At this writing, no materials are available, but it should be available early next week at the following link: https://kwo.ks.gov/admin-pages/events-landing-page/2022/01/27/default-calendar/kansas-water-authority-meeting. Virtual attendance is also provided via a link on the page above.  

The 2022 Winter Water Technology Expo will be taking place at the Finney County Fairgrounds in Garden City, Kansas on Thursday, February 3 from 5-9 p.m.  There will be demonstrations provided throughout the night, along with door prizes, food, and beverages. The Expo is free and open to the public. For more information visit: https://www.kwo.ks.gov/news-events/winter-water-technology-expo.  KWRC will participate as an exhibitor. 

Wichita Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR)  The City of Wichita has the state’s only active Aquifer Storage and Recovery project. The project was initially developed and approved in two phases. During 2018, the City requested changes to the conditions associated with its existing permits for Phase II of the project. After a public information phase, the matter was set for a formal hearing in 2019, with the Chief Engineer delegating the hearing to Connie Owen and requesting her recommendation on the matter. On January 14, 2022, Ms. Owen provided her summary and recommendations, recommending the City’s requests be denied.  See the link below for her report and the extensive public record. The matter now goes to the Chief Engineer for a decision. https://agriculture.ks.gov/divisions-programs/dwr/managing-kansas-water-resources/aquifer-storage-and-recovery/wichita-asr

Categories
KDA-DWR Legislature Meeting Reports Policy Water Rights

House Committee on Water Starts New Session Focused on Recommendations

Last year, a new committee was created in the Kansas Legislature: the House Committee on Water (HCOW).  The Committee held over 30 hearings during the 2021 legislative session, including a 2-day hearing in Garden City last August. Last year’s focus was to collect information on various state and local water agencies, their responsibilities, programs, staffing, and budgets.  

All the presentation materials received by the Committee, as well as committee minutes summarizing the same, are available on the committee’s website, under Committee Testimony, by date of the testimony. See http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2021_22/committees/ctte_h_water_1/.

The website also includes the committee calendars, a committee roster, bills sponsored and a link to access an audio stream of committee hearings as they occur. Committee documents include State & Federal Water Programs Manager, Water Programs Org Chart, and committee rules, and more.

The important work of the HCOW continues in 2022, focusing on developing recommendations to the Legislature related to water, including recommendations related to increase funding for water programs. During its first week of January 10, 2022, the committee’s work started with updates from three state agencies (KWO, KDA-DWR, and KDHE).  During the week of January 17, the committee will hear updates on Wednesday (1/19) from the Nature Conservancy and the US Army, Corps of Engineers, and on Friday (1/21) from the Kansas Farm Bureau.

To make the Committee’s information more accessible, we have built a webpage with tables for 2021 and 2022 listing hearing date, subject (e.g. agency), and a link to the testimony provided and committee minutes.

We will be keeping this page up-to-date as the session moves forward.

Categories
Meeting Reports

Three Water Meetings in Garden City, August 16-18

Since COVID hit last March, water meetings of state-wide interest have been either canceled or virtual. This week, in Garden City, we have three separate water meetings, packed into three days. Here is the run down:

The Kansas Water Congress (KWC) will hold its summer meeting on Monday, August 16, starting at 8:30 a.m. at the Clarion Inn, 1911 E Kansas Ave. The agenda is dominated by state agency updates in the morning and reports by the Groundwater Management Districts (GMDs) in the afternoon. For more information on the KWC and details of the meeting, see: https://www.kswatercongress.org/.   

The Kansas Water Authority — On Tuesday, August 17, the KWA will hold its first in-person meeting since early 2020, starting at 8:00 a.m., also at the Clarion Inn in Garden City. There is a virtual option available as well. 

The agenda, meeting materials, and instructions for remote participation are available at: https://www.kwo.ks.gov/admin-pages/events-landing-page/2021/08/17/default-calendar/kansas-water-authority.  

In addition to its routine business and several updates, the two key action items of the KWA meeting including:

Kansas House Committee on Water – During the 2021 legislative session, this new committee of the Kansas House of Representatives held numerous hearings to collect information on various state and local water agencies, their responsibilities, programs, staffing, and budgets. Their work will continue at least through the 2022 legislative session. 

The committee’s work is accessible at the following link: http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2021_22/committees/ctte_h_water_1/, although you have to go to the specific hearing dates to access the presentations.  

The committee will have a field hearing in Garden City on August 17-18.  On the afternoon of the 17th, the committee will have a field tour and evening presentation. All day on Wednesday the 18th, will be a hearing at the Garden City Community College, including a public comment period, committee discussions, and several presentations focused on management of the Ogallala aquifer. 

The latest version of the agenda (as of 8/15) is: http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2021_22/committees/ctte_h_water_1/documents/agenda/weeklyinterim/20210823.pdf

It appears the committee’s August 18 hearing will be available via live stream from a link on this web page above.

Categories
GMD Groundwater Meeting Reports

April 2020 GMD and Kansas Water Authority Meetings

In this issue: Updates on April GMD meetings and the April 14 Kansas Water Authority meeting.

Note: KDA-DWR’s Topeka Field Office has moved to 1131 SW Winding Rd, Suite 400.

Groundwater Management District (GMD) April meetings:

  • GMDs 1, 2 and 5 chose not to meet during April.

Southwest GMD No. 3, highlights from their April 8, 2020 Board meeting.

  • Both GMD3 and DWR reported on their operations due to COVID19 with offices being closed but services continuing.
  • Board vacancies. As a result of Board member Mike O‘Brate moving to Garden City, he resigned his Gray County seat. However, as a result of the vacating of the Finney County position, he was moved to this seat. He will continue as Treasurer. The Board will be advertising the Gray County position and looking at committee assignment when that is complete.
  • Nick Hatcher’s Water Conservation Area (WCA) renewal. After review, the Board voted to recommend approval of the WCA renewal.
  • Mark Rude reported another version of a proposed revised management program for GMD 3 is available on their website.
  • Chris Law reported that GMD 3 is preparing for this year’s flow meter inspection program.
  • Full agenda and more information available via their Board packet.

Northwest GMD No. 4, highlights from their April 8, 2020 Board meeting

  • GMD 4 and DWR reported on office operations related to COVID19. The offices are closed but services being provided.
  • Wateruse tracking program from Mammoth Water . Manager Shannon Kenyon reported that she is working to recruit members to use the new program and get it up and running. Forms to sign up are on GMD 4’s home page http://gmd4.org/. So far 57 water rights signed up. The program allows groundwater users to track water use relative to water rights and LEMAs allocation.
  • GMD 4 LEMA – District legal counsel Adam Dees, reported there is nothing new related to the case before the Gove County District Court.
  • Master irrigator program. The Board held extensive discussion on this topic. Shannon has been exploring the Master Irrigator program’s implementation in Texas and Colorado, as well as developing partners for bringing it to GMD 4. She sought input from the Board on whether to continue with this effort and, if so, on how best to implement it in the GMD 4. The Board supported her continuing her work to develop the program. In hopes of expanded participation, the Board asked her to explore combining online completion of modules with face-to-face meetings. Shannon noted that the Texas program has all their lectures online.
  • Board position 11. After discussion, the Board appointed Marsha Shilling as a replacement for this vacant Board position.
  • Remote Board meeting participation via “GoTo” meeting. The Board believed the use of this technology worked well, allowing others to participate, reducing travel, and increasing transparency. Adam expressed that he preferred a face-to-face for the Board but thought it was fine for others.
  • Next meeting: tentatively set for May 6, at 10:00.
  • Previous minutes available at: http://gmd4.org/BoardMeetings.html

Kansas Water Authority, April 14, 2020 Meeting

For details, see the following:

Highlights:

  • The state’s response to the COVID19 crisis was discussed with state agency staff working remotely as much as possible and skeleton crews in the office. KDA is helping the Dept. of Labor and KWO is assisting KDEM with phone banks.
  • An update and action on Regional Advisory Committee appointments occurred.
  • The Water Vision/State Water Plan update process is continuing. A schedule for working toward completing the process was discussed with a goal of adopted Water Plan updates by January 2021, barring additional delays as a result of the COVID19 crisis.
  • Legislative and budget updates. This included a discussion of the 2019 Special Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources Recommendations, particularly related to flooding, as well as legislative action on FY 2020 and FY 2021 appropriations. The FY 2020 appropriation includes the addition of the Arbuckle Study and Flood Response Study. A webinar will be held April 17, 1:30, esp. for RACs on budget information.
  • Federal updates included discussion on the status of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Proposed Rules and the withdrawal of the Corps of Engineers proposed Water Supply Rule.
  • There was also a briefing on federal cooperative agreement with Kansas, which must be approved by the KWA (in a subsequent meeting).
  • Director Earl Lewis noted that there is potential for flooding again this year on the Missouri River and that southwest Kansas is increasingly dry.
  • A webinar on the Ogallala will be held on April 29 at noon.
  • Acting KDA-DWR Chief Engineer Chris Beightel noted:
    • On March 26, GMD 1 forwarded a LEMA plan for Wichita County proposing reductions of water use of approximately 16-20%, depending the degree of voluntary participation by vested rights. The initial hearing will be scheduled when practical.
    • At its last board meeting, GMD 4 decided to move ahead with development of a Master Irrigator Program similar to those of Texas and Colorado.
    • DWR’s Topeka Field Office has moved to 1131 SW Winding Rd, Suite 400. The KDA labs have moved to a new facility in Manhattan, adjacent to KDA’s offices.
  • Mike Armstrong noted the Corps of Engineer’s March 18 public notice related to permit applications for sand dredging on Missouri River. The Corps will hold a webinar on the applications on April 21 at 3:00 and will close the public comment period on May 2. A 2017 study showed that this dredging leads to bed degradation problems on the Missouri River. After discussion, the KWA directed the KWO to provide comment to the Corps opposing the granting of the permits.
  • Future meetings: May meeting on phone. Late June/July in person meeting expected.