Friday, July 1, 2011

Reporting Water Use in Kansas

Water right reporting in Kansas has been attended to quite a bit by all state and local groups.  Of course, the division of water resources administers the effort, but many others help - including the local GMD's, the Kansas Water Office and the Kansas Geological Survey.  The annual reporting system is really good, but it's not perfect.

One of the issues is reporting your maximum amount and rate regardless of what you pumped.  Unfortunately there have been too many advantages in the past for doing this.  First, the water right's certification process is based on the maximum water use reported in the period of record, and it uses these reports to establish the final certificate amount.  It's not hard to see what an advantage high reported water use would provide in this process.  However, any such advantage ceases to exist after the water right has been certified.  Unfortunately, most water users hear the high pumpage certification mantra and then forget all the rest.  Requiring meters and the reporting of start and ending meter readings puts a halt to this practice.

Equally as problematic are the various incentive programs for setting aside or voluntarily forfeiting water rights - they almost always base the payment on historical reported water use.  The more water you have been using, the more acrefeet of water you are eligible to retire, the better the water right looks to those wanting it retired, and the higher your payment is.  Again, most water users just retain the idea that high reported water use is good, and forget that the numbers being used are always in the past.  Of course, meters and reporting metered values solves this problem as well - at least for the time the meter record is available.  For the guy that has always reported excessively, he still wins.

However, the notion that high reporting is good still lingers regardless of the attempts to dispell it.  Just glad we metered all wells in GMD 4 and don't have to worry a whole lot about this issue any more.  Of course, the state has found a few creative types who have not pumped their full annual quantity and are inflating their ending meter readings to give them a cushion next year if they should need it - a very innocent form of private water banking in the eyes of the water users doing it no doubt.

The sad thing about all of this is how the water modeling being done is being affected.  Bottom line is that inaccurate water use reports screw up much more than most think.

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