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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.


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