Thursday, June 23, 2011

Water Rights Conservation Program - Kansas

Kansas had a water rights conservation program (WRCP) that ended December 31, 2009 due to budget cutbacks.  It was a jointly conceived and developed program that allowed valid water right holders to set their water right (use) aside for a number of years and not become subject to abandonment for non-use.  And the best part, it was a free program for the water right owners.

When the budget crisis hit in 2008, the state agencies began jettisoning all non-core programs (not required by statute) and the WRCP was one of these.  It was developed and operated out of the goodness of the state agency's heart.  This program's demise was lamented by many because it was fairly well used - with almost 1,000 water rights enrolled - some of those having been idle for as many as 15-20 years.

With a lot of work and convincing, we were able to get the 2011 Legislature to statutorily embody this program, and require a $300.00 filing fee to cover all the state's administrative program costs.   I'm happy to announce that the program starts back up again July 1, 2011, and I've already had my first applicant asking to file - even though the application forms aren't even available yet.

There were a few other changes as well, like limiting the enrollment time to 2, 10-year enrollments with a maximum of 2 years between each enrollment.  All in all, the new program is better for all concerned and should run smoothly - completely fee funded.  I'll try and keep tabs on enrollment and cover this program again later.  It's a good thing when water rights in overappropriated areas can be set aside for conservation rather than be used for fear of being abandoned and forfeited.

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