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
Water Rights

Do multi-year flex accounts lead to expanded water use?

The Chief Engineer of the Division of Water Resources (DWR) is required to report annually to the Kansas Legislature on implementation of the multi-year flex account (MYFA) program. The program was started in 2001 to allow waterusers to use more than their water right’s authorized quantity in any one year in exchange for a 5-year limitation on use. For years, the tool got little use as the prescribed 5-year limit was 10% less than average historic use. In 2012, there were significant reforms to the MYFA program’s statutory requirements that removed this required 10% conservation and also provided a second option to compute the 5-year limitation. This led to significant use of MYFAs, especially starting in 2012 as it was an extremely dry year. The program continues to see significant use, especially in southcentral Kansas.

Prior to this year’s report to the Legislature, DWR looked at the question of whether MYFAs were facilitating an expansion of water use via its flexibilities. DWR’s review focus was on the areas of greatest use of southcentral Kansas. For 11 counties, DWR tabulated water use by those currently enrolled in MYFAs for two periods: a pre-MYFA period vs. more recent use under MYFAs. For the same counties, DWR also compared use by those enrolled in MYFAs vs. those not enrolled in MYFAs.

The detailed results are in DWR’s “Water Use Comparison” document that can be found on DWR’s MYFA page.

In sum, DWR found “little evidence of expanded use under MYFAs when compared to pre-MYFA use, with a few counties showing reduction in use during the MYFA period.”

Also on the MYFA page is the Chief Engineer’s 2020 annual report to the Legislature, which includes a map showing locations of active MYFAs.


More from the blog: