The second hearing (required by law) for the state's first local enhanced management area (LEMA) has been set for November 28, 2012 in Hoxie, KS beginning at 10:30 A.M. For those who may not know, a LEMA is a pretty big deal in Kansas. It is a process whereby the local water users can suggest an enhanced management program for their area - as long as it is designed to slow the groundwater table decline rate in a legal manner.
The Kansas chief engineer accepts the local proposal, conducts two hearings, and then decides to implement the plan as proposed, reject it, or offer changes that must be locally approved in order to get implemented. This arrangement does not guarantee that the locals will get the enhanced management plan they want, but it does guarantee they won't get a plan they don't agree with.
The heart of the proposed plan for the SD-6 high priority area being heard is based on a 55 acre-inch per acre allocation for every irrigation water right over the proposed 5-year period of January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2017. The allocations for the few other types of water rights that exist in the area are different, but are also as requested.
There is flexibility built into the proposal that allows each water right owner to use the 55-acre inch allocation as they desire, and to trade allocation amounts freely. These elements will help insure that the maximum economic value of the restricted water use can be achieved.
Overall, the design of this proposal expects to result in an 18-20% reduction in actual historic pumpage from the area. While designed to last ONLY the 5-year period, there will be a review near the end that will decide if a subsequent LEMA will be sought, and what the conditions of that LEMA will entail. For more information, visit the Northwest Kansas GMD 4 website.