Governor Laura Kelly expressed her support for a recent decision by the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service addressing concerns involving the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in Kansas.

For decades, the Fish and Wildlife Service has expressed concern that its senior water right on Rattlesnake Creek in the Quivira Refuge was being impaired by junior groundwater pumping, and modeling and technical analysis completed in 2016 confirmed this concern.

During a recent meeting with Governor Kelly, the DOI and Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to not submit a request for administration of water rights at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge for 2020, and instead work toward a local collaborative solution.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service has committed to working with local water users in the Rattlesnake Creek basin to find a solution to this conflict that addresses the water needs of the community while respecting the wildlife conservation purposes of the refuge,” Kelly said. “We appreciate that they are taking the time and focus to sit down with our local residents at the table to discuss the water conservation tools and methods available in Kansas to find a resolution.”  

Earlier this fall, the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s chief engineer announced that administrative action would be taken to reduce water use upon the Service’s request for water for 2020. Those plans were put on hold in October when the Service notified KDA-DWR that they would not be submitting that request. 

Governor Kelly and members of her administration met with representatives from the Service on Nov. 14 in Washington, D.C., to discuss the status of the Service’s water right at Quivira and thank them for their commitment to local collaboration.

Governor Kelly and Kansas Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Kelsey Olson assured the Service that Kansas will continue to support the negotiations as appropriate.  State agencies stand ready to provide assistance as needed in understanding the state’s water management tools and other water conservation guidance and implementing solutions to which all sides agree.