Extend the usable lifetime of the Ogallala Aquifer for at least 25 years in the planning region through the promotion of multiple Local Enhanced Management Areas (LEMAs), Water Conservation Areas (WCAs) and other incentive-based programs.
Respect private property rights - first in time, first in right. Voluntary, incentive-based solutions should be the highest priority. Conservation activities should result in the availability of added flexibility. Economics will serve as the best driver for future conditions. Locally developed solutions, not government-defined goals, are the best alternative. Recognize diversity of resource conditions across planning region. Cooperation with neighboring states necessary to ensure river flows and extending the life of the Ogallala. Rivers flowing into Kansas must be highly valued. Compacts need to be enforced.
The Upper Arkansas RAC has members representing water users in the region, including representatives from the dairy industry, agriculture, surface water irrigation, groundwater irrigation, public water supply, conservation and environment, industry and commerce, groundwater management, and the general public. Click here to see a full list of Upper Arkansas Regional Advisory Committee Membership.
The Upper Arkansas RAC has four goals to address water supply issues throughout the region. Click here to read the complete Upper Arkansas Action Plan.
The first irrigation ditches in the Garden City area began construction in 1880 and are credited with leading to thousands of irrigated acres. Six irrigation ditch companies provide Arkansas River water to the area for irrigation between the Colorado line and Garden City.
The Upper Arkansas Regional Planning Area examines a significant number of conservation events and activities including the first Water Technology Expo, first Ogallala Aquifer Summit, and a Water Conservation Field Day. The region contains the most irrigated acres, three water technology farms, and the largest number of Water Conservation Areas (WCAs) in the state. With all of this activity, the region has still seen aquifer declines, with an average annual decline of 1.89 feet and a cumulative decline of 18.86 feet from 2007-2016.
To learn more about the resources and conservation efforts, visit the State of the Resource page and view the report.
The Upper Arkansas RAC is attempting to reach out to industries to foster a dialog about water conservation. Committee member Kyle Nelson has led this effort by contacting the top users but has received only one reply, and plans to send a follow up letter in hopes of receiving more response. The development of Water Conservation Area’s (WCAs) continues in the region as 10 WCAs have been approved in 2018 encompassing 19,866 acres, bringing the regional total to 14 WCA plans covering 25,167 acres. There is one pending WCA that would cover an additional 3,588 acres if approved.
The RAC has showed continued interest in the removal of tamarisk as an invasive species and in local activities involving soil health. In August of 2018 the First Annual Bottom Line Conference was held in Lakin with the subject being profitability through soil and water conservation in a dry climate. Over 100 individuals attended the conference which featured speakers from all over the country.
A recurrent concern of the committee is the lack of action on seeking additional sources of supply to augment the natural resources found in the region. A formal request is being developed that supports making this a priority at the state level. Other topics the RAC has stayed up to date or interested in include the Arkansas River Compact Administration, Water Technology Farms, and Water SMART grant opportunities.