Governor Kelly Advocates for Federal Water Funding to be Extended to Kansas

– Governor Laura Kelly has sent a letter to U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland requesting that the Lower Colorado River Basin Conservation and Efficiency Program (the LC Program) be expanded to Kansas.  

The program, part of the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, provides funding for water management and conservation efforts in the Colorado River Basin and other basins experiencing similar levels of long-term drought. Much of Kansas has experienced some of the worst drought conditions in the country over the past year, impacting the state’s agricultural industry and accelerating the need to find economically viable solutions that improve access to water long-term. 

“Expanding the LC Program is a vital part of our efforts to mitigate economic impacts to communities in this region, including our critical agriculture industry,” Governor Kelly wrote. “A timely expansion of this program could help Kansas family farms and ranches, small towns, and wildlife avoid the worst of the severe and potentially irreversible short and long-term repercussions that are predicted.” 

The High Plains Aquifer (HPA), interconnected with the Ogallala, lies beneath most western Kansas communities. The High Plains Aquifer is also the primary source of water for western Kansas and economically the most important groundwater resource in Kansas. 

Dry years lead to increased pumping demands, primarily for irrigation, which typically cause more significant water level declines. Such declines can impact vulnerable areas like the Rattlesnake Creek sub-basin, a part of the HPA, which provides water to the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. 

“Water is critical for farmers and ranchers across Kansas, where agriculture is an essential part of the local economy,” said Secretary of Agriculture Mike Beam. “Extending the LC Program beyond the Colorado Basin would provide funding that could be instrumental in mitigating the effects of drought and helping pivot the state to a more sustainable future.” 

“KCGA is pleased and thankful for Governor Kelly recognizing the importance of requesting expansion of this federal funding for water conservation projects in Kansas,” said Kent Moore, Kansas Corn Growers Association (KCGA) Treasurer and farmer from Iuka, Kan. “These funds will provide key components in resolving the Quivira Impairment. We look forward to continuing to work with the Kelly administration in facilitating and implementing needed water conservation projects that benefit Kansas farmers, our environment, and our state’s economy.”

Read the letter here