Kansas Water Plan merits funding

The Topeka Capital-Journal is commended for its editorial titled “Water in Kansas Deserves Action” (November 17, 2018, page A4).

Water is the most vital and under-addressed policy issue in Kansas. Without water, all known forms of life and all human activities are impossible. Yet, 2018 Kansas Legislature continued years of grossly underfunding Kansas Water Plan projects as unresolved water issues continue to increase.

Kansans do have a long-term Water Vision: “Kansans act on a shared commitment to have the water resources necessary to support the state’s social, economic and natural resource needs for current and future generations.” To realize Vision and to enable fourteen water planning regions in Kansas to achieve their Vision-supporting water goals, the Governor-elect Laura Kelly and the 2019 Legislature need to “act on a shared commitment” to obtain adequate, stable, and long-term funding of Plan projects.

In 2017, Kansas Blue Ribbon Funding Task Force for Water Resource Management came to consensus that roughly $55 million in annual funding is needed for full implementation of Vision. Task Force recommended one-tenth of one percent of existing statewide sales tax be dedicated to implementation. That revenue source is unlikely given the continuing financial problems of Kansas state government.

Kansas water right holders have historically extracted free raw fresh water from Kansas lakes, reservoirs, rivers and aquifers. The $55 million to pay for Plan projects that realize the Vision can also be obtained by water right holders paying a fee for extracting water. Owners have paid a Kansas fee to extract crude petroleum and natural gas for years.

Kansans can act on their “shared commitment” by urging the governor-elect and the 2019 Legislature to approve $55 million annual funding of Plan projects.

Kansans can obtain more water information by typing “Kansas Water Office” in the search box of their computers.

Allyn Lockner, Topeka