House Committee on Water 2022

Current (8/31/2022): Sub HB 2686 was never considered by the full House. However, the issues raised by the Commitee’s work are not dead. The Committee leadership requested an Interim Committee to continue its work (held 8/29-30/2022), and audit of the GMDs by Legislative Research, which is on-going. So, stay tuned for future developments.

Previous: On the morning of 3/1, the House Committee on Water “worked” HB 2628, the Mega Water Bill. Immediately below is:
1) a summary of what occurred,
2) a sampling of the media’s sharp response from the Topeka Capital-Journal, Hays Post, Kansas City Star and Kansas Reflector and
3) current relevant links for the Substitute bill and the 2017 Blue Ribbon Task Force report.

As of 3/7/2022, Sub HB 2686 awaits consideration by the full House of Representatives.

Summary of what occurred: First, the chairman proposed a comprehensive set of amendments, which would have: removed KDHE’s Division of Environment from the agency consolidation leaving a Department of Water with its Secretary of Water; gutted the GMD provisions of the bill except for reporting; removed the water right fee for those paying a GMD assessment and basing it on water use than authorized quantity; struck the increase in water protection fees; raised water funding by $45 million/year via dedicating 1/65 of the current revenues from the state’s current 6.5 cents sales tax, and more.

Second, Rep. Newland offered a substitute bill which included only GMD reporting provisions and expanded funding for water projects via dedicating 1/10 of one cent of the state’s sale tax to water funding (of the current 6.5 cents, approx. $49 million/year) into the State Water Plan Fund.  The committee amended this substitute bill to add a one-time reporting requirement by GMDs from the balloon on p. 24 of the Chairman’s proposed amendments.  

After discussion, the committee passed favorably out of committee, on a 9 to 6 vote, the amended substitute bill, now called “Substitute for House Bill No. 2686.” Its fate is now in the hands of the House leadership, which will determine when and if it will be considered by the full House of Representatives.

Sample of Media’s response:

Current relevant links:

Previous documents:
* House Bill 2686 is now available here. 283 pages.
* The Revisor’s summary of the bill
* My draft summary of the HB 2628 as originally proposed

Short title of HB 2628 as proposed: Creating the Kansas department of water and environment within the executive branch and transferring the duties of certain offices to such department, establishing the water and environment maintenance fund and the water and environment maintenance board, modifying election procedures for groundwater management districts, establishing a water rights fee on owners of water rights and permits to appropriate water for beneficial use, authorizing the chief engineer to issue certain orders without review by the secretary of water and environment, increasing water protection fees, establishing a civil penalty for obstructions in streams violations and establishing the water structures emergency fund.

To listen: go to the Committee’s link below and click on the link to the Audio Stream.
* Media links below.

This new committee of the Kansas House of Representatives held numerous hearings during 2021 to collect information on state and local water agencies, their responsibilities, programs, staffing, and budgets. The committee’s work continues in 2022 to decide on recommendations for the Legislature to implement, including increasing funding for water programs.

The committee’s work is accessible at: with key documents available via our tables below. The Committee’s legislative web site includes:

Index of 2022 Committee work

DateSubjectLink to document
1/11/2022 Committee roster and rulesRoster;
1/12/2022 Agency updates by KWO and KDA-DWR – video Committee minutes;
KWO, C. Owen;
KDA-DWR, E. Lewis
1/13/2022 KDHE Agency update – video. Includes introduction of HB 2480 (definition of “project”) Commitee minutes;
1/19/2022Nature Conservancy; the US Army, Corps of Engineers videoCommittee minutes;
TNC presentation;
Corps presentation
1/20/2022Kansas Farm Bureau
Committee minutes;
1/24/2022KDA-Div. of Conservation; Conservation Districts
Committee minutes;
KDA-DOC testimony;
KACD testimony;
KACD presentation
1/25/2022Hearing on HB 2480 (def. of project)
Fiscal note;
Revisor bill brief;
City of Russell;
City of Hays;
League of KS Mun.;
1/26/2022KWO / KWA on State Water Plan videoKWA annual report
1/27/2022Committee passes HB 2480 favorably
1/31/2022DWR on Dam Safety videoNA, see video, media below
2/14/2022Revisor’ presents summary of HB 2686
2/15/2022Chairman Highland presents on rationale for bill
GMD changes;
Water fees;
Water agencies org with bill changes
2/16/2022Hearing, Day 1, Proponents (and one opponent)
City of Wichita;
Alynn Lockner;
Burke Griggs;
Water One;
Friends of the Kaw;
Kansas Farmer Union;
Climate Energy;
City of Hutchinson ;
Kay Heley;
KS Municipal Utilities;
Lucas Bessire;
Rep. Blex;
Nature Conservancy;
William Bradley;
KS Sierra Club;

Opponent: GMD 5
2/17/2022Hearing, Day 2, Opponents and Neutrals
Opponents: KLA;
KS Ag Alliance;
B. Beckman;
KS Corn;
GMD 4;
KS Water Congress;
Water PACK;
SW KS Irrigators;
GMD 3;
R. Hayzlett;
S. Beckman;
GMD 2;
T. Jaeger
Neutrals: KBS ;
KS Prof. Engineers;
City of Garden City;
2/18/2022Commitee discussions, part 1 (GMD and fees)Link to video
2/21/2022Committee discussions, part 2 (agency re-org)Link to video
3/1/2022Committee final action (see top of page)
link to video
Chair’s proposed amendments
Rep. Newland’s substitute bill

Index of Committee 2021 work

Date SubjectLink to document
1/13/2021 Committee introduction, purpose, scope, rulesCommittee minutes;
KLRD on Open Meetings;
KLRD on Open Records;
Committee Rules
1/19/2021 Review of Water Agencies/Programs videoCommittee minutes;
Water program Org chart;
State/Fed Water Agency Program Manual
1/20/2021 Focus on flooding, sedimentation and dredging videoCommittee minutes;
2019 Special Committee Report on Flooding
1/21/2021 Kansas Water Office/Authority
(KWO/KWA) video
Committee minutes;
Owen Testimony;
2021 KWA Annual Report
1/25/2021 Kansas Geological Survey (KGS) videoCommittee minutes;
KGS presentation
1/26/2021 Water Law overview, Burke Griggs videoCommittee minutes;
Griggs’ presentation
1/27/2021 KDA-Division of Water Resources (KDA-DWR) videoCommittee minutes;
KDA-DWR presentation;
KDA-DWR testimony
1/28/2021 KDA-Dept of Conservation
Hearing on HB 2005 (Boiler Safety Act) video
Committee minutes ;
KDA-DOC presentation
2/02/2021 Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) videoCommittee minutes ;
KCC presentation ;
Follow-up information
2/03/2021 Dept of Emergency Management (DEM) videoCommittee minutes;
DEM presentation;
2017 Response Plan
2/04/2021Department of Commerce & Discussion on Committee expectations videoCommittee minutes;
DOC Water Initiatives;
Committee expectations
2/08/2021Kansas Biological Survey (KBS) videoCommittee minutes;
KBS presentation
2/09/2021KS Dept of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT)
Hearing on HB 2172 (MYFAs) video
Committee minutes;
KDWPT presentation 
2/10/2021KS Dept of Health & Environment (KDHE) videoCommittee minutes;
KDHE presentation 
2/11/2021KDHE (con’t)
Commitee minutes;
KDHE presentation
2/15/2021Forest Service videoCommittee minutes;  
FS presentation;
Trees and water quality;
Twin Lake assessment
2/16/2021KWO/KWA videoCommittee minutes;  
KWO testimony ;
2021 KWA Report;
KWO presentation;
Follow-up info
2/18/2021KDA-DWR Water Appropriation Program videoCommittee minutes;
2/22/2021KSU Research and Extension videoCommittee minutes;
2/23/2021U.S. Army, Corps of Engineers videoCommittee minutes;
2/24/2021KS Geological Survey videoCommittee minutes;
2/25/2021Bureau of Reclamation videoCommittee minutes;
3/15/2021Conservation Districts videoCommittee minutes;
Information sheet;
3/16/2021Prof. Burke Griggs on Western Water Law videoCommittee minutes;
3/17/2021Groundwater Management Districts (GMDs) videoCommittee minutes;
GMD 1, Wichita Co LEMA;
GMD 1 Summary;
GMD 2 Summary;
GMD 2 Presentation;
GMD 3 Testimony;
GMD 3 Presentation;
GMD 4 Summary;
GMD 5 Summary
3/18/2021Legislative Research: Kansas Water Organizations Chart videoCommittee minutes;
Water Org Chart;
Presentation ;
State Water Plan Fund
3/22/2021Budget, State water Agencies videoCommittee minutes;
Summary Budget Info
3/23/2021KWO/KWA, Regional Advisory Committees (RACs) videoCommittee minutes ;
Presentation on RACs;
RAC membership;
Follow-up info;
Agency Org chart (appears partial?)
3/24/2021Urbanization and stormwater runoff videoCommittee minutes;
3/25/2021KDA DWR Floodplain program videoCommittee minutes;
Mapping process timeline;
Mapping status;
Current mapping projects;
Agency Org chart
8/17/2021Garden City hearingCommittee minutes
8/18/2021Garden City hearing – video (8 hours)Kansas Water Law (Ramsey);
KDA-DWR, Lewis;
KWO, Owen;
KDHE, Henning;
Titus Jaegar;
Allyn Lockner;
Mark Rude (GMD 3);
KS Sorghum