State’s First LEMA Proposal Approved in NW Kansas

The Kansas Department of Agriculture Division of Water Resources (DWR) has approved the first Local Enhanced Management Area (LEMA) in Kansas.  Proposed by Groundwater Management District (GMD) 4 in Northwest Kansas, Sheridan 6 LEMA will be located in Sheridan and Thomas counties.

The LEMA process is a central component of legislation supported by Governor Sam Brownback in 2012 to reform multiple Kansas water statutes.  It allows GMDs to initiate a public hearing process to consider locally-developed LEMA proposals aimed at conserving water resources while also meeting local needs.

According to the order approving the proposal, the GMD’s plan to reduce water use within the Sheridan 6 LEMA by approximately 20 percent during the next five years will serve the public interest by conserving water and, thus, extending the useful life of the Ogallala Aquifer.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, all water use within the LEMA boundaries will be included in the five-year allocations established by the Sheridan 6 LEMA.

The Sheridan 6 LEMA proposal also provides significant flexibility to allow water users to maximize the economic benefits of the reduced supply. The LEMA is expected to reduce water use by approximately 28,000 acre-feet during the next five years.