Kansas Bostwick Irrigation District Conservation Projects
Lower Republican Projects
On February 24, 2015, in the case of Kansas v. Nebraska No. 126 Original, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of Kansas in the dispute over the states’ rights to the waters of the Republican River Basin. The Court ruled Nebraska had “knowingly failed” to comply with the Republican River Compact and awarded Kansas $5.5 million for its losses. The 2015 Legislature then introduced Senate Bill 112 Section 178, which designates where all moneys recovered by the state of Kansas shall be deposited. Of the $5.5 million, $2 million was received by the Attorney General for the interstate water litigation fund. The remaining $3.5 million will be credited to the Republican River Water Conservation Projects-Nebraska Moneys Fund for water improvement projects in the Republican River Basin.
K.S.A. 82a-1801 through 82a-1805 lists the types of projects that may be funded by the moneys, which include:
· Efficiency improvements to canals or laterals managed and paid for by an irrigation district
· Water use efficiency upgrades
· Implementation of water conservation of irrigation and other types of water uses
· Implementation of water management plans or actions by water right holders
· Water measurement devices and monitoring equipment and upgrades
· Artificial recharge, funding the water transition assistance program, purchase of water rights and cost share for state or federal conservation programs that save water
· Maintenance of the channel and the tributaries of the Republican River
· Reservoir maintenance or purchase, lease, construction, or other acquisition of existing or new storage space in reservoirs
· Purchase, lease, or other acquisition of a water right; and
· Expenses incurred to construct and operate off-stream storage
Officials from the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) and the Kansas Water Office (KWO) met with Kansas Bostwick Irrigation District (KBID) in November 2015 to discuss potential projects that could be completed using the moneys in the conservation fund. Possible projects presented include: automating the channel system and the delivery of water using remote management systems to maintain consistent flow rates; adding an impermeable layer to the edges of the trenches to reduce seepage losses; and converting the open lateral canals to buried pipe systems to eliminate any seepage and evaporation. While the first two options are good possibilities, they do not solve the large problem of evaporation and operation spills.
The final option of buried pipe systems would remove any opportunities for operational spills, eliminate the costs of labor and associated equipment, and eliminate the need for subsurface tile drainage and the need to maintain it. KBID’s assessment of a conversion project from open lateral canals to buried pipe includes three canals in their third section, an area they have not yet been able to afford on their own. The total miles of potential pipe for these three canals would eliminate 8.74 miles of open canals. KBID owns much of the equipment needed for the conversion project, such as a wheel trencher with a laser level, excavators, bull dozers, wheel loaders and dump trucks.
According to KBID, eliminating evaporation, seepage and operational spills by switching to buried pipes would create an estimated total water savings of about 2,600 acre-feet of water a year. Over the next 20 years, this system will save an estimated 52,000 acre-feet, bringing Lovewell Reservoir from empty to conservation level twice. The estimated total cost of this project would amount to about $1,905,000.
On January 6, 2016, a stakeholder group representing multiple interests within the Lower Republican in Kansas met with officials from the Kansas Water Office (KWO) and Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) near Clay Center to discuss potential projects. The group came to consensus that in general, $2.5 million should be used for projects within the Kansas Bostwick Irrigation District (KBID) and $1 million should be used for projects which are not part of the KBID system. This split was a combination of proportion of where damages had occurred and which projects could be implemented that would benefit the overall basin. The group confirmed that the report from stakeholders completed in 2010 provided the basis for projects and that no funding should go to cost share on individual or private projects. Rather projects that benefited the entire basin, or a group of water users should be pursued.
A contract was signed between KBID and the KWO on January 22, 2016 for the conversion of portions of remaining open irrigation canals to a buried pipe system. For the first year, KBID will be starting with canal project 33.0 in the 3rd Section.
SEPTEMBER 2016 UPDATE: KBID has already purchased approximately $400,000 worth of pipe, equaling roughly 50 semi-truck loads. The pipe has been moved to an area where it will be easily accessible for when actual construction starts after irrigation season this fall. KBID applied for and has successfully gained additional funding from the Bureau of Reclamation to help contribute to the overall project cost. The district recently found out the result of this grant, which will add $100,000 to the overall project.
NOVEMBER 2016 UPDATE: KBID has completed the purchase of the entire order of pipe needed for the first canal project (33.0 in the 3rd Section) to be buried during the 2016-2017 off-season. The district will continue throughout the off-season to remove the old canal structures, bury the old canal in, and install and bury the new pipe.