Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ogallala Aquifer Advisory Committee Meeting 2

I attended the OAAC second meeting on August 23 in Scott City, Kansas.  Another good turnout of committee members and state and local agency folks.  Also had at least two members of the press in attendance as well - representing the Hays Daily News and Kansas Public Radio.  The major focus of this meeting was slated to be 2012 Farm Bill discussions - How does the current Farm Bill affect water use and how can the next Farm Bill promote water conservation?  But first, status reports on the two action issues out of the first meeting were requested:  the water right abandonment situation, and a proposed new, local IGUCA.

KDA reported on two draft versions of the abandonment statute amendments.  One version was simple and proposed to strike the language of the current bill that required water right owners to maintain their wells in order that their non use would be considered "due and sufficient cause".  The second version also included language that would allow the local GMDs to effect abandonments if they chose to.  Recall that the discussion last meeting was to consider allowing the GMDs to develop regulations that would direct the chief engineer's abandonment efforts locally. No decision was made.

KDA also reported on a draft statute and regulation that would support the local IGUCA discussed and approved on August 9.  The effort was a new statute authorizing a new process for a Local Enhanced Management Area (LEMA).  Both DWR and GMD4 indicated that discussions have identified 6-8 changes that were being further contemplated.  Moreover, the Revisor's Office has not yet completed their draft work, but it should be available soon.

The committee decided to hold up the next meeting until the IGUCA statute draft language was completed.  They indicated they wanted to consider the actual draft language rather than simply support the concept.  More later.   

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