For the first time since 2002, the Kansas Department of Agriculture's division of
water resources has lifted pumping restrictions on 177 water rights along the Republican River in Clay, Cloud, Jewell, Republic and Washington counties.
"Water flow on the Republican River at Concordia and Clay Center has been above the minimum desirable streamflow threshold since May 6, so we're finally able to lift the pumping restrictions put in place May 9, 2002, due to drought," says David Barfield, acting chief engineer of the division of water resources.
As such, the restrictions were lifted last week.
Minimum desirable streamflow requirements were made part of the Kansas Water Appropriation Act by the 1984 Kansas Legislature to ensure base flows in certain streams to protect existing water rights and to meet in-stream water uses related to water quality, fish and wildlife and recreation.
Kansas monitors 23 streams and rivers for minimum desirable streamflow. When flow drops below an established threshold, pumping restrictions are imposed on affected water rights granted after the minimum desirable streamflow provision was made into law in 1984.
Barfield cautions water users that lifting the pumping restrictions may be temporary.
"While streamflow conditions allow us to lift water use restrictions today, without adequate precipitation in the coming weeks, restrictions likely will be re-imposed," he says. "Water users need to carefully assess their needs to make the most of their water use in the coming weeks."
Staff in the division of water resources field offices in Stockton and Topeka work with water right holders to help them understand laws and regulations related to minimum desirable streamflow. Water right holders who have questions should contact the Topeka field office at 785-368-8251 or the Stockton office at 785-425-6787.