Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Governor's Water Summit - Post Activity

As already reported, Kansas Governor Brownback's water summit was held July 21, 2011 in Colby.  It was attended by 400 or so folks from across Kansas and even a smattering of people from our neighboring states.  There were no shortage of ideas provided by those involved.  As I said before, the complete list of ideas is supposed to be published on the Kansas Water Office website, but it's not been posted as of this writing, so I'll point you again to the preliminary capture of ideas which are here.  Suffice it to say that I have one issue with this capture which has been brought to the attention of the KWO.  I'll be interested in seeing if it is addressed in the final posting. (More about this below)

Anyway, all the ideas will be handed off to a 21-member select committee that was just recently appointed by the chairperson of the Kansas Water Authority.  This committee is made up entirely of western Kansas stakeholders and contains no water professionals (water agency types - either federal, state or local).  They will meet for the first time August 9 in Dodge City and will open with two issues:  What should be done with the Kansas abandonment statutes to foster better conservation?; and Should the intensive groundwater use control area laws be amended to foster more local use?

While I still have mixed feelings on the abandonment statutes (previous post here), it is the IGUCA laws that I am excited about.  I think there can be small changes made to the existing laws that will get the local folks far more interested in using this approach for new enhanced management approaches.  This alone was well worth the effort to me.  But it remains to be seen what other issues will follow these two as this process plays out.  My issue with the process (mentioned earlier in this post) has to deal with the state's broadening of the comments made during the summit.  While individuals did suggest law changes or retention for the abandonment, IGUCA, personal property rights and water use flexibility portions of the statutes, I heard no one suggest that every law and regulation needs a serious review and reconsideration - which is what became characterized by the KWO and is currently posted on the web page as public comment number 2.  Maybe someone said it in one of the breakout sessions, but I didn't hear it.

Of course, if this comment prevails, every aspect of the Kansas water appropriation act now becomes open for change - including the very most fundamental aspect of the entire system - the prior appropriation system.  This could get real serious in a hurry.  Anyway, all in all I think some positive things will have a chance to come out of this effort in a fairly short period of time.  Let's cross our fingers.

UPDATE(August 5, 2011):  The full slate of public comments are now posted on the Kansas Water Office website.  There are 3 links under the heading:  Stakeholder Input from Summit Small Group Sessions. 

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