Northwest Kansas Groundwater Management District No. 4                                                                                                Site hosted by: Casey Designs
 


 



Anticipating passage of a Kansas statute dealing with the possibility of award monies from the Republican River Compact Settlement Agreement coming to Kansas from either Colorado or Nebraska, the GMD 4 board decided to look into a possibility of forming a conservation projects alliance.

As anticipated, the Kansas legislature did pass SB 89 in the 2008 session - specifying how any award monies would be utilized by Kansas.  After the state's interstate litigation fund is restored to its $20 million target level, SB 89 created two new conservation funds - the "Republican River Conservation Projects - Nebraska" fund and the "Republican River Conservation Projects - Colorado" fund.

One-third of any Nebraska award funds received will go to the state water plan fund for water conservation projects - with priority given to projects that will directly enhance Kansas' ability to stay in compliance with the compact.  Two-thirds of any Nebraska funds received will be administered by the Kansas Water office for conservation projects in the Lower Republican River basin in Kansas.

Two-thirds of any Colorado award funds received will be administered by the Kansas Water office for conservation projects in the Upper Republican basin in Kansas while one-third will go to the state water plan fund for water conservation projects.

The new statute lists 10 types of conservation projects for which funds could be approved, but the list is broad and includes many possibilities.

In August, 2007 GMD 4 contacted about 80 Upper Republican Basin leaders and pitched the idea of a conservation projects alliance, whose goal would be to craft a unified, cooperative and comprehensive water conservation projects application for consideration by the Kansas Water Office (KWO) under the terms of the SB 89 bill. These persons included representatives of County Commissions; Cities; Irrigation Districts; GMDs; Production Ag; Economic development; RC&Ds; Financial institutions; area Industry; Animal feeding; the Upper Republican Basin Advisory Committee; Farm Bureau's and the Environment.

Through this process, each "stakeholder group" (commissioners, cities, etc.) appointed one representative to sit on the Alliance. The following persons currently sit on the Alliance:

> Wayne Bossert; GMD 4; Colby; Chair
> John Arford; Economic Development; Norton
> Sandy Rogers; RC&Ds; Goodland
> Matt Bain; Environment; Colby
> Spencer Schlepp; Conservation Districts; St. Francis
> Dick Kelly; Industry; Oberlin
> Larry Maxwell; Financial; Colby
> Cynthia Dixson; County Farm Bureaus; Atwood
> Rich Simon; Cities; Goodland
> Ralph Unger; County Commissions; Oberlin
> Sid Metcalf; URBAC; Atwood
> Harlan House; Animal Feeders; Goodland
> Herb Mattson; Production Ag; Colby

The Alliance met a number of times through the 2008 - 2010 time frame and created a short list of 11 conservation projects to pursue. During this period, the Kansas Water Office identified and worked with the Bureau of Reclamation (BoR) on a grant to provide reconnaissance level engineering work. The KWO and the Northwest Kansas GMD 4 also contributed funding and in-kind hours, but only enough funding was collected to do the engineering work on four conservation projects. It was the decision of the Alliance that the 4 short-list projects that involved surface water deliveries from Colorado would be undertaken in the engineering study. The engineering firm of Wright Water Engineers, Denver, CO was selected for the study. They would co-work with Spronk Water Engineers (also of Denver) on the effort. The reconnaissance engineering study on the 4 surface water proposals was completed in July, 2010. Until funding comes to Kansas from Colorado or Nebraska as a result of the Republican River Compact's Final Settlement Stipulation (FSS), the work of the Alliance is completed. Various issues of the FSS remain in contention and may require further litigation before being resolved.