As I wrote about regularly this past legislative session, the House Committee on Water had a busy two years. In the end, drafting the so-called “mega-water bill”, which, pun intended, got watered down and ended up going nowhere this past session.
But the issues considered by the Committee are important and the work will continue. Between now and the 2023 legislative session two things are planned: an interim committee and an audit of the state’s Groundwater Management Districts. Below is what we know about each as of this writing.
Legislative Interim Committee on Water, August 29-30, Topeka
As requested by the Chair of the House Committee on Water, the Legislative Coordinating Council, which makes decisions on such matters, approved two days for an interim committee on water issues. Specifically the approved topics are: “Issues Related to Kansas Aquifers, Dam Storage Capacity, and Funding.”
The committee will be made up of both Senate and House members and includes:
Senate: Sen. Dan Kerschen, Chairperson; Sen. Carolyn McGinn; Sen. Ron Ryckman; Sen. Alicia Straub; Sen. Mary Ware.
House: Rep. Ron Highland, Vice-chairperson; Rep. Cyndi Howerton; Rep. Jim Minnix; Rep. Joe Newland, Rep. Lindsay Vaughn; Rep. Rui Xu.
The meetings are planned to be in Room 112-N of the Capitol.
Those are all the specifics currently available. Below are two links where more information should be posted as the time gets closer:
The Kansas Legislative Research Departments web page on the interim committee: http://www.kslegresearch.org/KLRD-web/Committees/Committees-Spc-2022-Water.html
The special committee’s web page: http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2021_22/committees/ctte_spc_2022_water_1/.
Evaluating Groundwater Management Districts’ Efforts to Conserve Water
Again, as requested by House Committee on Water Chairman Highland and Rep. Lindsay Vaughn, the Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit has been approved to conduct an audit of the state’s Groundwater Management Districts (GMDs) efforts to conserve water.
The Audit study proposal is available at: https://www.kslpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Evaluating-Groundwater-Management-Districts-Efforts-to-Conserve-Water-Audit-Proposal.pdf.
The State has five GMDs over the Ogallala-High Plains Aquifer, shown in the map below. According to the GMD Act’s Legislative declaration, their purposes include: “the proper management of the groundwater resources of the state; for the conservation of groundwater resources; for the prevention of economic deterioration; for associated endeavors within the state of Kansas through the stabilization of agriculture; and to secure for Kansas the benefit of its fertile soils and favorable location with respect to national and world markets.”
According to the Audit’s study proposal, the audit has three objectives:
- Objective 1: What programs do Groundwater Management Districts (GMDs) administer and are those programs appropriate?
- Objective 2: Have GMDs identified areas of concern within their districts and do their programs effectively address those concerns?
- Objective 3: How much did GMDs spend in the most recent year and what percentage was for directly addressing their districts’ identified areas of concern?
For each objective, the proposal has tentative methodologies listed, including such things as:
- reviewing background information on the legislative purposes of GMDs, especially with respect to water conservation;
- collecting information from each GMD on their management programs, activities, budget, etc;
- interviewing GMD staff on the same;
- comparing the GMD’s work and priorities with their legislative purposes;
- determining whether GMDs are identifying “areas of concern” within their district with respect to declining quantity and quality of groundwater and their programs to address these concerns;
- and working with GMDs to determine how they are funded; how they make spending decisions and what portions of their funding they are using to address identified areas of concern.
The Audit is slated to start late August and take approximately 4 months to complete, with a report to the 2023 Legislature.
More on GMDs:
- KDA-DWR page on GMDs at: https://agriculture.ks.gov/divisions-programs/dwr/managing-kansas-water-resources/groundwater-management-districts, which provides information on each GMD and links to the GMD Act and implementing regulations.
- My web page on GMDs at: https://kwrconsulting.com/conserve/
Upcoming KWRC News articles:
- Kansas Water Authority Water Policy Discussion, Aug. 10, Salina
- GMD 1’s Four County LEMA (submitted to the Chief Engineer on July 1; more at: https://www.gmd1.org/)
- Hays-Russell Change Applications and Water Transfer Process
To subscribe to this Newsletter: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/l4q8w8 (a link is also on the KWRC home page at: https://kwrconsulting.com/).