Catching up on news from the last quarter of 2022, this issue highlights the renewal of both Local Enhanced Management Areas (LEMAs) of Northwest Kansas Groundwater Management District (GMD) No. 4 and the action of the Kansas Water Authority (KWA) in December to adopt a new policy recommendation on the Ogallala.
The Sheridan 6 and the GMD4 Local Enhanced Management Areas (LEMAs) both renewed for 2023-2027
2022 was a big year for LEMAs. In addition to Western Kansas GMD 1 proposing its new Four County LEMA, Northwest Kansas GMD No. 4 (GMD4) had renewal hearings for both its existing LEMAs.
The renewal hearings for GMD4’s two LEMAs were held on July 26 and 27, 2022. Both LEMAs were proposed to continue on largely the same terms as they current exist for an additional five years. The orders, testimony, and related materials for these proceedings can be accessed via the first link above.
On October 14, 2022, the Chief Engineer issued his order of Decision and Designation for the Sheridan 6 LEMA, approving GMD4’s Management Plan for the LEMA, keeping it in place for another five years, from January 1, 2023, through December 31, 2027. The Sheridan 6 LEMA covers about 100 square miles of Sheridan County and a small part of adjoining Thomas County. In short, irrigation lands will again be allocated 55 inches per irrigated acre for the coming 5 years. For more: See DWR’s link above and/or GMD4’s web page for the Sheridan LEMA at http://gmd4.org/SD6.html.
Similarly, on November 22, 2022, the Chief Engineer issued an Order of Decision and Designation approving the GMD4’s Management Plan for the GMD4 (District-wide) LEMA, keeping it in place for another five years, from January 1, 2023, through December 31, 2027. The GMD4 LEMA covers the entire GMD4 except for areas of stable water levels, generally on the fringe of the district. Allocations vary according to the rate of groundwater declines in the township, with more restrictive allocations in areas of greater decline. For more see DWR’s link above and/or GMD4’s web page on the GMD4 LEMA at http://gmd4.org/LEMA.html.
Kansas Water Authority passes new policy recommendation related to the Ogallala Aquifer
On Wednesday, December 14, 2022, the Kansas Water Authority, at its regular meeting in Colby, passed a new policy recommendation to the Governor and Legislature related to the management of the Ogallala Aquifer. Specifically, it advises the following related to depletions in the Ogallala Aquifer:
1. The policy of planned depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer is no longer in the best interest of the State of Kansas.
2. A formal collaborative process is needed to establish data-driven goals, metrics, and actions to halt the decline of the Ogallala Aquifer while promoting flexible and innovative management within a timeframe that achieves agricultural productivity, thriving economies, and vibrant communities – now and for future generations of Kansans.
3. The collaborative process should engage state agencies, regional advisory committees, local stakeholders, groundwater management districts, and the Kansas Water Authority.
For more, see the following media stories:
- ‘It’s time to deal with this’: Kansas Water Authority wants to save Ogallala Aquifer; Kansas Reflector, 12/15/2022.
- This is the first time the Kansas Water Authority has voted to save what’s left of the Ogallala, High Plains Public Radio, 12/15/2022.
See also the KWA’s annual report to the Governor and Legislature at: https://kwo.ks.gov/docs/default-source/kansas-water-authority-page/annual-report-2023-final_010523.pdf?sfvrsn=7e7c8e14_2.
The Kansas Geological Survey’s High Plains Aquifer Atlas is an excellent source of information on the Ogallala-High Plains aquifer: https://www.kgs.ku.edu/HighPlains/HPA_Atlas/index.html.
Finally, for more, see my presentation to the House Committee of Water on groundwater management: https://kwrconsulting.com/legislature/house-committee-on-water-briefed-on-dwr-duties/