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June 13, 2024
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Minutes for HB2279 - Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources

Short Title

Requiring groundwater management districts to submit annual written reports to the legislature and to provide water conservation and stabilization action plans to the chief engineer.

Minutes Content for Tue, Mar 14, 2023

Chairperson Kerschen opened the hearing on HB2279.

Tamera Lawrence with the Revisor of Statutes Office explained the bill. (Attachment 1)

Representative James Minnix spoke in support of the bill. He explained the process by which the House Water Committee created the bill with the philosophy that water belongs to all the people of Kansas.

Representative Lindsay Vaughn testified in favor of the bill.  She told the committee that the House Water Committee had spent the last two and a half years studying the various urgent water quantity and quality concerns facing Kansas. The House Water Committee had become alarmed by the rapid deterioration of the Ogallala High Plains Aquifer which is the primary source for water in Western Kansas.  That, along with one of the worst droughts of the last century, makes it essential to take action now to save the aquifers before it is too late. HB2279 has been created to help conserve water in Kansas.(Attachment 2)

Tim Boese told the committee that although he supports the bill, he believes there are some details in the bill that may be problematic. One is the requirement that Groundwater Management Districts must identify all priority areas of concern by July1, 2024.  This will be difficult to achieve and he recommends moving the deadline to December, 2024.  Another concern is that the bill make take away local control and management of the Equus Bed Aquifer.(Attachment 3)

Aaron Popelka testified as a proponent of the bill.  He believes that it strikes a good balance that will allow local leaders to craft local solutions.(Attachment 4)

David Pope spoke in support of the bill.  He told the committee that the bill provides a necessary and an important process to deal the management of the High Plains Aquifer and especially the ongoing depletion of the Ogallala portion of the Aquifer in western Kansas.(Attachment 5)

Kent Askren testified in favor of the bill.  He believes that the bill will promote the review and, if necessary, revision of the Groundwater Management programs with the common goal of maintaining a indefinite supply of water.(Attachment 6)

Shannon Kenyon spoke as a proponent of the bill.  In her opinion HB2279 supports local efforts to extend the life of the High Plains Ogallala Aquifer for current and future generations of northeast Kansans.This bill supports that need for local control.(Attachment 7)

Katie Durham testified in support of the bill.She told the committee that the bill's requirement for districts to identify areas of concern, conduct public education and outreach, and develop an action plan on how the district intends to address these concerns aligns with the way that her district has conducted the development of its WCAs and LEMAs.(Attachment 8)

Rex Buchanan spoke in favor of the bill.  He believes that asking groundwater management districts to present a plan to deal with groundwater depletion is reasonable, appropriate, and long overdue.(Attachment 9)

Written proponent testimony was submitted by:

Justin Cobb- The Nature Conservancy(Attachment 10)

Brent Rogers-Kansas Corn Growers Association(Attachment 11)

David Barfield- Kansas Water Resources Consulting(Attachment12)

Tom Jones- High Plains Feed Yard(Attachment13)

Gina Gigot- Circle Land and Cattle(Attachment 14)

Mark Rude presented neutral testimony on the bill. He requested that the bill be amended to require a single annual report be made to the legislature, instead of the three different reports and different deadlines that are currently part of the bill. He had several other requests to make other amendments to the bill.(Attachment 15)

Jim Butler gave neutral testimony on the bill. He believes that a sound and defensible approach for defining priority areas of concern should be based on the comprehensive water level and water use data that the Kansas Geology Survey has on the High Plains Aquifer in Kansas.(Attachment 16)

Chairperson Kerschen closed the hearing on HB229 and adjourned the meeting at 9:30.