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New Kansas Water Authority Chair, Budget Recommendations
Kansas Ag Connection - 09/18/2019

The Kansas Water Authority (KWA) met in Goodland under the new direction of Constance "Connie" Crittenden Owen who was appointed chair this past summer by Governor Kelly to lead the KWA.

"My experience as a licensed attorney practicing Kansas water law for more than 25 years has exposed me to real-life water issues that affect individuals and families, as well as businesses and municipalities," said Owen. "As Chair I welcome the opportunity to apply the knowledge and expertise of the board members, professionals in our state agencies and stakeholders throughout Kansas to protect our water resources for current and future generations."

In addition to Owen, several new members were present including: Jeremiah Hobbs representing the State Association of Kansas Watersheds, Chris Ladwig representing the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and industrial water users, Sen. Carolyn McGinn representing Environment and Conservation, and David Stroberg representing Groundwater Management Districts (GMD) 2 & 5.

Two major actions were taken by the KWA which included approval of Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) membership for positions with 2019 term expirations as well as approval of State Water Plan Fund (SWPF) budget recommendations for State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2021.

The KWA re-appointed 54 currently seated members to serve another four-year term on their respective RACs and appointed 25 new members to serve on nine of the RACs.

As in recent years, the KWA decided to develop a SWPF budget recommendation package which focuses on full restoration of the State General Fund (SGF)/Economic Development Initiatives Fund (EDIF) demand transfer totaling $8 million. Enhancements and appropriations which took place for SFY 2020 were recommended as base-level funding program funding for SFY 2021, with additional enhancement recommendations for 12 projects/programs/initiatives totaling $3,170,100 and ultimately creating a budget recommendation package which includes full restoration of the SGF/EDIF demand transfer.

Other actions of note by the KWA include approval and authorization of the Kansas Water Office (KWO) Director to proceed with negotiations with the Lower Smoky Hill Water Supply Access District for the purchase of additional irrigation storage space in Kanopolis Lake; approval for the KWO to enter into a multi-state Planning Assistance to States (PAS) agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a flood risk management study for the Lower Missouri River Basin in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska; and approval for the KWO Director to enter into an agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to receive and utilize High Hazard Potential Dams Rehabilitation Grant Funds.

Presentations were also provided by the Kansas Geological Survey on the Arbuckle in Kansas and Groundwater Management District 4 on water conservation efforts in northwest Kansas.

The KWA is responsible for advising the Governor, Legislature and Director of the Kansas Water Office on water policy issues. They also ensure that water policies and programs address the needs of all Kansans as well as serve as advisors of the Kansas Water Vision and Kansas Water Plan. The KWA was established in 1981 and consists of 13 voting members who are appointed by the Governor or Legislative leadership. State agency directors serve as ex-officio members.

The KWA meetings are throughout the year and the next meeting is scheduled for December 19 in Salina. For additional information and other upcoming meetings, please visit www.kwo.ks.gov.

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