Water Conservation Project Fund

Photo of New Dig TurnoutPurpose

To use a portion of the damages received from Colorado for violation of the Kansas-Colorado Arkansas River Compact for the benefit of the area impacted caused by overuse of the Arkansas River water by Colorado.


Statutes 82a-1801-1803 (enacted in 1996) spells out the apportionment of monies received from Colorado based on damages, and created the Water Conservation Project Fund to be administered by the director of the Kansas Water Office.

The Kansas-Colorado Arkansas River Compact was negotiated in 1948 between the states of Kansas and Colorado to settle existing disputes and remove causes of future controversy concerning the waters of the Arkansas River and to equitably divide and apportion the waters of the Arkansas River between Kansas and Colorado. Kansas filed Kansas v. Colorado in 1985 to enforce the terms of the Arkansas River Compact. As a result of court determined damages, Kansas received $35.7 million dollars from Colorado in 2005 and 2006. The Water Conservation Projects Fund received slightly less than $9.7 million of this. Initial administration included reimbursements to ditch companies for expenses incurred for litigation and four feasibility studies defined by the local steering committee. In 2008 the remaining funds were transferred to Southwest Groundwater Management District 3 (GMD3) under a grant agreement that specifies use of the funds must be consistent with the state statute for the Water Conservation Projects Fund.


  • The 2008 legislature directed the funds to a GMD3 fund through a grant agreement with the Kansas Water Office (KWO). Under this grant, the Western Water Conservation Project Fund was created.
    • Project applications are reviewed by the stakeholder committee of six ditch company representatives and agency advisors then forwarded to the GMD3 board.
    • If locally approved projects meet eligibility criteria, the director of KWO, in consultation with the Chief Engineer (KS Dept. of Agriculture-Div. Water Resources), may approve projects.
    • The statutory defined criteria include improvements for efficiency of canals, laterals or operation of the canals; water use efficiency devices; and measurement or monitoring equipment.  A full description is available in K.S.A. 82a-1803

Current Updates

To date projects have included feasibility, design and construction phases for improvement of one or more aspects of a ditch irrigation system operation or efficiency. There have also been completed evaluations to aid with management or efficiency of the river system and related water rights. Construction projects have replaced flumes, headgates, or control structures; lined portion of ditches; allowed for bypass of Lake McKinney or the river itself; and installed gages. Studies have helped identify management or operational changes to aid efficiency or monitor Colorado’s compact compliance.


Under a grant agreement, $9.9 million was transferred to GMD3 in 2008. At the end of 2016 a balance of $3.7 million was remaining in the fund, some of which is obligated for projects in progress.

Project Manager

Diane Knowles

KWO Office
900 SW Jackson Street
Suite 404
Topeka, Kansas 66612
Phone: 785-296-3185
Fax: 785-296-0878
Toll Free: 1-888-526-9283
Email the Office
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