Water users encouraged to track streamflow conditions online
Water users in the lower Republican River basin are urged to use a Kansas Department of Agriculture-hosted web page to keep track of streamflow conditions that could trigger minimum desirable streamflow water use restrictions.
The web page is at www.ksda.gov/appropriation/?cid=1388.
Under Kansas law, when flow drops below an established threshold, pumping restrictions are imposed to protect existing water rights and to meet in-stream water uses related to water quality, recreation, and fish and wildlife. These minimum desirable streamflow requirements were made part of the Kansas Water Appropriation Act by the 1984 Legislature, and they affect only those water rights granted after April 12, 1984.
Pumping restrictions were in place from 2002 to 2007, when drought plagued much of Kansas. Throughout that time, restrictions were imposed on 177 water rights along the Republican River in Clay, Cloud, Jewell, Republic and Washington counties because streamflow remained below minimum desirable streamflow values. Heavy precipitation in spring 2007 brought back higher sustained flows, and flows throughout 2008 were sufficiently high that MDS administration was not triggered.
In recent years, water users in the Republican River basin have been allowed to enter into agreements with the division of water resources to use at least some groundwater or surface water, even while minimum desirable streamflow administration is under way. Consent agreements will be available again in 2009, but only if and when MDS administration becomes necessary. Temporary changes, another mitigation tool, will be allowed should administration occur in 2009.
Currently, Republican River flows remain above MDS trigger levels. The department will notify affected water users if conditions change and it looks like MDS administration could be required.
Water right holders who want to know more about Republican River MDS issues are encouraged to view the web page or to contact the division of water resources field office in Topeka at 785-368-8251 or Stockton at 785-425-6787.