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Minutes for HB2100 - Committee on Agriculture

Short Title

Relating to water conservation areas.

Minutes Content for Mon, Feb 13, 2017

Chair Hoffman opened the hearing on HB2100 at 3:36pm.

Kyle Hamilton, Assistant Revisor, Office of The Revisor of Statutes, provided an overview of HB2100 and the statutes that it affects. He answered questions from the Committee. (Attachment 1)  There is a Fiscal Note for HB2100.

Susan Metzger, Assistant Secretary, Kansas Department of Agriculture, appeared before the Committee in support of HB2100.  She explained the purpose of Water Conservation Areas (WCAs), the benefits, and identified the five currently approved WCAs.  Ms. Metzger explained how HB2100 would clarify the flexibility component in the WCAs; how WCAs are treated for purposes of priority, protection, and certainty in the event of impairment concern; and clarify the public outreach and notification process to ensure rights owners are informed on WCAs plans and associated water rights flexibility.   (Attachment 2)

Kent Askren, Director of Public Policy, Kansas Farm Bureau, appeared before the Committee in support of HB2100.  This bill provides greater flexibility in exercising water rights so higher value outcomes can be achieved with the use of less water all while remaining consistent with state water law.  It allows the Chief Engineer to terminate or amend a WCA to alleviate any injury if an impairment occurs. HB2100 also ensure that nearby well owners will be notified of any proposed WCA management plan so potential impacts can be aired by adjoining water right holders for the Chief Engineer to consider before moving forward with approval.   (Attachment 3)

Aaron M. Popelka, Vice President of Legal & Governmental Affairs, Kansas Livestock Association (KLA), appeared before the Committee in support of HB2100.  This is needed to solve a water-use distribution issue facing many KLA members who operate cattle feed yards and dairies. Most feed yards or dairies have one integrated water distribution system, but a number of different wells.  The WCA requirement for a water management plan, and the elimination of term permits, will allow member facilities to flexibly manage their water rights in an integrated distribution system.   The institution of corrective controls, while costing participants, does allow flexibility needed due to the variations between livestock facilities.  KLA believes the amendments to the current WCA law contained in HB2100 will provide added flexibility for water use at a livestock facility, while advancing the cause of water conservation.   (Attachment 4)

Tracy Streeter, Director, Kansas Water Office, appeared before the Committee in support of HB2100.  He explained the results obtained at one of the three WCAa currently in operation and their resulting use reductions.  The flexibility of the WCAs is a major motivation of water users and afford producers the opportunity to seek the highest economic vale of water pumped while staying within the overall allocation.  Conserving and extending the usable lifetime of the Ogallala Aquifer and sustaining the usable lifetime of the remainder of the High Plains Aquifer is the primary goal of the region.  The use of WCAs motivate users to conserve limited water resources with the flexibility to maximize profits. (Attachment 5)  

John Donley, Kansas Corn Growers Association, provided written testimony in support of HB2100(Attachment 6)

Proponents responded to questions from the Committee.

There were no opponents/neutrals of HB2100.

The hearing on HB2100 was closed at 4:21pm.