Gov. Sam Brownback says water plan will help Ogallala Aquifer

Gov. Sam Brownback on Wednesday unveiled a proposal he said will help conserve the Ogallala Aquifer.

The proposals were pushed forward by an advisory committee that reviewed issues with the Ogallala, a vast underground water table beneath eight states, including western Kansas.

“The Ogallala Aquifer is the primary source of water for the western third of Kansas,” said Gary Harshberger, chairman of the Kansas Water Authority. “It is essential to find ways to help extend and conserve the life of the aquifer.”

Brownback’s proposals for the 2012 legislative session, which starts in January, include:

• Eliminating the “use it or lose it” policy for groundwater rights in areas closed to new water right development.

• Providing a process for proactive conservation plans.

• Allowing development of additional groundwater “water banks.”

• Giving irrigators expanded flexibility in managing their crop water over a five-year period.

State officials have scheduled four public meetings to talk about the proposals. Those meetings will be Dec. 8 in Wichita; Dec. 9 in Topeka; and Dec. 13 in Garden City and Colby.

By Scott Rothschild


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