Archive for Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Bill on water rights in county clears Legislature

May 6, 2008


— The Kansas House on Monday approved a measure aimed at stopping a Douglas County water district from condemning land to drill a well and possibly appropriate water rights.

The issue prompted sharp debate, and the legislation - House Bill 2860 - squeaked by 64-57, and will now be considered by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. The Senate approved the bill Saturday.

Supporters of the measure said it was needed to prevent the state from allowing Public Wholesale Water Supply District No. 25 from using eminent domain to appropriate water.

They said that was needed to protect Kansas River Valley farmers from losing availability to water to grow a wide variety of specialty crops.

The bill would put the water district's proposal on hold for two years and require a special committee to study issues concerning the use of eminent domain in trying to attain water rights.

"All we're asking is for two years that we can put a stay on their ability to grab water," said state Rep. Anthony Brown, R-Eudora.

But opponents of the bill said the measure could be interpreted as a change in water law that would affect water rights in other areas of the state.

Some lawmakers said they sympathized with the farmers, but that because the water district made an application for water it must be authorized.

"It's plain and simple," said state Rep. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona. "Those farmers made a mistake. They never applied for water rights."

But Douglas County legislators argued the bill was drafted tightly enough to affect only the situation in Douglas County. They said eminent domain was never meant to be used to condemn land in order to gain rights to underground water.


JohnBrown 10 years ago

Lawrence City minutes, May 2000. Kipp, representing Friends of Douglas County, presented the report concerning the water inventory in Douglas County. The entire public water supply portion at Clinton Lake was controlled by the Kansas Water Office. In 1997, it was discovered by the Kansas Water Office that Clinton Reservoir was silting five (5) times faster than anticipated in 1977. The added silt reduced the reservoirs water storage capacity and the Kansas Water Office reduced the amounts of water available to water suppliers in their contracts from Clinton Reservoir. The future yield of Clinton Reservoir was expected to decline as siltation continues. The estimate as to the rate of decline was in question. The Kansas Water Office anticipated a slower siltation rate, but Kipp could find no publish information justifying their prediction. Future water demand, depended on two (2) variables which were population growth rate and the per capita water consumption rate. For a population growth rate for approximately 2.2 percent with no addition siltation at Clinton Reservoir, water demand would exceed supply in about the year 2030 which was the best case scenario. If Lawrence's growth rate were accelerated, then demand would exceed supply in the year 2027, as a best case scenario, or the year 2020 as the worst case. Kipp presented a list of recommendations including monitoring, siltation rates in Clinton Reservoir more frequently; beginning consideration of low level continuous dredging of Clinton Reservoir; intensifying silt mitigation and erosion controls in the water shed; emphasizing recruitment of low water use industries; Eudora, Baldwin and Rural Water Districts considering filing additional applications for water held in their water rights; considering feasibility of infusing the Douglas Aquifer during water surplus years; incorporating water conservation planning into zoning and platting Ordinances; seeking professional advise on the appropriate kinds and scale of developments which might occur over the Kansas River Aquifer to protect this water supply; conducting in depth water usage projections for each supplier in Douglas County and incorporate this information in to the Comprehensive Plan; .............. The City Commission concurred to receive report concerning water inventory in Douglas County and thanked Kipp.

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