The Bureau of Reclamation is awarding a $92,026 grant to Southwest Kansas Groundwater Management District No. 3 to better manage groundwater used by irrigators in 12 counties in southwestern Kansas by building a database to provide annual water management reports to every irrigator in the District. It is part of a $15.4 million investment for 18 projects in the west to prepare for and respond to drought. The WaterSMART Drought Program funding will leverage $54.9 million in non-federal cost-share to complete projects in seven Western states.
"More than 50% of the western United States is in a severe drought or worse," said Chief Engineer David Raff. "The projects selected will help communities prepare for the increased risk of a drought by increasing the reliability of water supplies and improving water management."
Reclamation's Drought Response Program is part of WaterSMART. It supports a proactive approach to drought by providing water managers assistance to develop and update comprehensive drought plans. It also implements projects that will build long-term resiliency to drought and supports President Biden's new Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad as it increases resilience to the impacts of climate change.
"This successful program provides critical climate change adaptation tools for municipal, industrial, and agricultural water resource entities,” continued Raff.
These reports for irrigators in the district will detail the water use, remaining saturated thickness of the aquifer, an evaluation of the effect a reduction in use would have on the aquifer, a monthly overview of the year’s drought monitor during irrigation season, and an economic overview comparing water supply costs with nearby users with similar project conditions.
In its recent report, Water Reliability in the West-2021 SECURE Water Act Report, Reclamation found that the duration, severity and frequency of droughts are projected to increase in the future and further strain the many competing demands for water in the west.
"Collaboration with our customers and stakeholders is key as Reclamation seeks to address water management challenges as climate change causes more frequent and severe droughts," added Raff.
Reclamation’s Drought Response Program supports science-based decision-making in drought planning, and connects recipients with resources across Federal agencies, including NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System. “Drought resilience planning, guided by the best science, is critical to moving the nation from a reactive to a proactive approach to drought risk management,” said NIDIS Executive Director Veva Deheza.