Upper Smoky Hill Regional Advisory Committee

Map of Upper Smoky Hill RAC Boundaries

Current Focus Area

To develop a water use reduction plan to reduce the rate of depletion of groundwater resources, to sustain the long-term economy of the area. Increasing water use efficiency and flexibility, to achieve an overall reduction in water usage while maintaining economic viability.

Guiding Principle

Achieving sustainability is defined for this planning region as ensuring the future health and success of the community, environment, economy, and the people of the region. Implementation of these goals should not purposefully or unintentionally penalize good stewards. 

About the RAC

RAC Planner: Armando Zarco - armando.zarco@kwo.ks.gov and Alexandra Geisler-alexandra.geisler@kwo.ks.gov

The Upper Smoky Hill RAC has members representing water users in the categories of irrigation, industry and commerce, conservation and environment, agriculture, public water supply, groundwater management, and the general public. Click here for a full list of Upper Smoky Hill Regional Advisory Committee Membership.

The Upper Smoky Hill RAC has five goals to address a variety of water supply issues in the region. Click here to access the full Upper Smoky Hill Action Plan.

Upper Smoky irrigation

Irrigated agriculture is the largest water use in Kansas with much of this region relying on the depleting Ogallala aquifer. This region is also known for supporting the largest number of feedlots in Kansas. A local land owner initiative in Wichita County is implementing the first county-wide Water Conservation Area (WCA) plan in Kansas.  

State of the Resource

The Upper Smoky Hill Regional Planning Area is working to preserve the aquifer in an area with some of the lowest saturated thicknesses in the state.  The region has experienced an annual aquifer decline of 0.6 feet and cumulative decline of 5.96 feet from 2007-2016.  Conservation efforts continue with the establishment of two Water Technology Farms, an irrigation technology cost-share program, and four Water Conservation Areas (WCAs) including the largest and only county wide WCA in the state. 

To learn more about the resources and conservation efforts, visit the State of the Resource page and view the report. 

Regional Activities

The Upper Smoky Hill RAC is working closely with Groundwater Management District No. 1 to stay involved in the development of the Wichita County Local Enhanced Management Area (LEMA).  The District is looking to take a county by county approach for establishing LEMAs and the committee is supportive of these efforts.  In addition the RAC supports the continuation of the Districts irrigation technology cost-share program. 

The expansion of Water Technology Farms and Water Conservation Areas (WCAs) throughout the region continues.  There has been an effort to provide water related education to area high school students specific to Western Kansas.  Several curriculum development projects have taken place with local schools, and plans still remain to share those projects with other teachers.  

The RAC has taken an interest in several other project ideas including finding funding for a stock water reuse project, working with Kansas Corn on education through Corn Schools, and the creation of a water meter app. 

Meeting Notes

Meeting Presentations

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