KDA Chief Engineer approves Wichita Co. water conservation plan

Published: Jan. 9, 2021 at 4:38 PM CST
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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - The Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Chief Engineer has approved a water conservation plan for Wichita County.

The Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Divison of Water Resources says Earl Lewis, Chief Engineer, has signed an order that approves the Local Enhanced Management Area plan for all of the area in Wichita Co. lying within the boundaries of Western Kansas Groundwater Management District No. 1. It said the LEMA was signed on Dec. 30, 2020, and will be effective for five years.

According to the KDA, the LEMA plan was proposed by the GMD 1 board of directors in March of 2020, which calls for reductions in water use in specified areas of Wichita Co. in GMD1. It said details in the plan were set to meet the goal of extending the usable life of the Ogallala Aquifer for the long-term benefit of the area, by addressing excessive water level declines and withdrawal rates exceeding recharge rates. It said the plan was approved by the chief engineer after a lengthy hearing process.

The KDA said a LEMA is a tool that allows GMDs to set goals and control measures to help water conservation, which must be approved by the chief engineer. It sad one of the guiding principles of the state’s Water Vision is that locally driven solutions have the highest opportunity for long-term success. It said LEMAs were created to give local stakeholders a tool to act on their shared commitment to make sure there is a reliable water supply.

According to the KDA, the Wichita Co. LEMA will be the third LEMA in the state and was motivated by local desires to conserve water and make sure there is continued economic viability in the region. It said this LEMA follows notable successes achieved by the LEMA plans in northwest Kansas. It said results form the state’s other two LEMAs show that the reduction in water use slowed the rate of groundwater level decline and extended the life of the aquifer with little to no economic harm caused by the reduction during the same period.

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