Tuesday, July 27, 2010

AWEP - Conservation Log - Day 27

I am amazed yet again at the veritable speed at which this program is coming together.  We have finalized the majority of decision-points related to implementing our conservation proposal of transitioning irrigated acres out of irrigation, and are now seriously servicing the questions of potential applicants.  And there is a lot of interest and a lot of questions.  There is also a program eligibility change which I corrected in my July 19 Blog article (previous entry below).

We are confident that we can retire 2,000 irrigated acres within our 6 high priority areas in our first program year.  Keep in mind, these acres will be non-irrigated for 6 years only.  We are also hoping to leverage the state's Water Transition Assistance Program (WTAP) with this effort to permanently retire perhaps 800 of these acres in year 1. 

With 2 more years of AWEP funding available (pending Congressional funding and local participation) we'll eventually retire from 6,000 to 7,000 acres for the 6 years.  This activity should catch the attention and interest of the Kansas Legislature to fund WTAP sufficiently over the same 3-year period so we can continue making permanent conversions by leveraging the two programs.  If it doesn't, I can only conclude that our Legislature is actually disinterested in reducing groundwater use - regardless of what they pontificate otherwise.  Yes, I'm throwing the gauntlet down and challenging the Kansas Legislature to step up.  (Yeah, I'll bet they're really worried now.)

No seriously, I think we've put together a pretty responsible program to convert irrigated acres in our most critical areas - exactly what our state water plans says needs to be done - with the heavy lifting being done by the NRCS' AWEP program.  To not support this effort with state funds will be "penny wise and pound foolish" as Ben Franklin would say. We'll see.  

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