With the signing of the final LEMA action - the Order of Designation - the Kansas Chief Engineer on April 17 set the SD-6 LEMA a-sail. Over the next 5 years these intrepid water users will do what is necessary to reduce total water use by some 20% in order to slow the decline rate and extend the economic longevity of their local groundwater supplies. They are to be congratulated, in my opinion.
But we're not setting them a-sail without any oars. The federal Risk Management Agency (RMA) has authorized a brand new, only in SD-6, limited irrigation insurance program whereby these producers can insure their limited irrigation corn and soybeans starting this year. Wow, who thought that'd happen? The local proposal also provides ample water use flexibility by: 1) converting each water right to a 5-year allocation; 2) allowing multiple water rights to combine allocations; and 3) providing instant transfers of water between allocations. Our GMD has developed a special newsletter (the SD-6 LEMA Ledger - shown above) to keep everyone up to date with the process and identify potential pitfalls. Finally, Governor Sam Brownback has fast-tracked a special task force charged to develop strategies whereby limited irrigation producers can maintain or even increase their ag production - again, focused primarily in this LEMA.
All in all, I think this is local control at its best, and not likely to get any better. So if unused, or poorly used, or (worst of all) summarily rejected, the only likely alternative will be enhanced state control. I've discussed this before, and still see this as the number one potential problem. I'll cover more on this topic, from other perspectives, as the process continues to unfold.