Conservation Policy

Governor’s Water Conference, Updated State Water Plan, more

In this issue, we will catch up on a number of news stories of the last two months, including:

  • The 2022 Governor’s Water Conference; 
  • The release of the latest 5-year State Water Plan update;
  • An article which lauds Hays for its leadership in water conservation; and 
  • The USGS releases an updated and more comprehensive version of the water cycle.

Governor’s Water Conference, November 16-17, Manhattan

Governor’s Water Conference

For the first time since 2019, the Governor’s water conference will be in person; back in Manhattan after two years in Wichita. For more, see the Kansas Water Office’s website at:’s-water-conference.  This is the 11th Annual Governor’s Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas. As always, the conference is designed to highlight the latest policy and research developments of water issues in Kansas. It starts off with a plenary session including national speakers, but most of the conference is organized around a series of breakout sessions around a host of water themes including such things as: water conservation, water management, technology and crop varieties, reservoirs; municipal and industrial water; watersheds; High Plains and other aquifers; irrigation and water conservation; droughts, floods, and climate change; water transfers; water reuse; water and energy; water and health.  If you are interested in water, there should be something of interest here.

From my perspective, best of all, the conference includes a great opportunity to network with the who’s who of the water world in Kansas. 

KWRC is a conference sponsor and will have a booth. Please drop by to see us.

State Water Plan update 

The Kansas Water Authority (KWA) and Kansas Water Office (KWO) are charged with continuously maintaining and updating the Kansas Water Plan, with major updates to the plan typically occurring on a five-year cycle. To develop the Plan, KWA/KWO gathers input from a variety of local, state, and federal agencies, as well as grassroots input from its Regional Advisory Committees. The resulting Kansas Water Plan is a tool used by the State of Kansas to address current water resources issues and to plan for future needs. 

During August, the KWA approved the 2022 version for release to the public. The new Plan can be found at: While the document is 261 pages long, I found it easy to scan to quickly access its major themes and the content of greatest interest to me.  If interested in water issues, I suggest you download it and peruse it.

Start with its 10-page executive summary, which is also an overview of the rest of the document. It includes:

  • A review of the 5 “Guiding Principles of the Kansas Water Plan” around which the Plan is written, which includes: 
    • Conserve and Extend the High Plains Aquifer,  
    • Secure, Protect and Restore our Kansas Reservoirs,
    • Improve the State’s Water Quality,
    • Reduce our Vulnerability to Extreme Events. and 
    • Increase Awareness of Kansas Water Resources.
  • An overview the Regional Planning Areas used by KWA/KWO in developing getting local input. 
  • Discussion of Water funding, including the State’s Water Plan fund.
  • A high-level section on the state’s management of water.

After review of the executive summary, you can spend time in the section(s) of greatest interest, be they guiding principles or geographic areas of particular interest. 

Hays lauded for its leadership in water conservation

An extensive article by High Plains Public Radio ( investigates and highlights water conservation efforts of Hays, Kansas. While there are many communities across the semi-arid High Plains impacted by poor water supply, Hays was — and is — the only city in Kansas with more than 15,000 residents but no sustainable source of water, being too far west for reliable rainfall and reservoirs and too far east to tap into the Ogallala aquifer. As a result, Hays has the most extensive program of water conservation in the state and has invested significantly in a decades-long quest for a sustainable water source today.  

One quote: “Thanks to decades of conservation efforts, Hays has become the California of Kansas — a place where thinking about your water use is a way of life. For now, it’s an outlier. But as climate change brings drier, hotter weather to Kansas, more cities may have to follow a similar path.

Read the article for much more.

“Not Your Childhood Water Cycle”, USGS releases an updated and more comprehensive version 

USGS Water Cycle Diagram

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) water cycle diagram is used by hundreds of thousands of students in the United States and worldwide. The agency recently released a new diagram for the first time in more than 20 years, this time with humans as show-runners. Although people have long siphoned water from groundwater and diverted rivers into farm fields and industrial plants, the new diagram is the first time humans have been included in what was presented until now as a “natural” cycle. The change reflects the latest 20 years of research uncovering humanity’s central role in the cycle and how to communicate it visually. “We need to change how we think about these things to be able to live and use water sustainably for our future,” said Cee Nell, a data visualization specialist at the USGS VizLab, which designed the diagram. In addition to natural processes like ocean evaporation, precipitation over land, and runoff, the new diagram features grazing, urban runoff, domestic and industrial water use, and other human activities. Each label in the chart comes from data tracking the significant paths and pools of water worldwide. Read more at:

Thanks to the Kansas Rural Water Association for allowing reprint of this article (