The state of Kansas is investing nearly $43 million in statewide water projects to enhance water access and improve infrastructure. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will supply $25 million and $18 million will come from the State Water Plan Fund.
The $25 million will go to the state’s agriculture agency to address sustainable and reliable water access for farmers in the High Plains Aquifer. Spanning 174,000 square-miles and eight Midwestern states, the High Plains Aquifer is critical to the region’s agriculture, cities and industry. It supplies up to 80% of Kansas’ daily water use, according to the Kansas Geological Survey.
Those funds will flow through the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency dedicated to providing technical assistance to farmers and other private landowners. The money is part of the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), an initiative that seeks to reduce water usage by working with farmers and ranchers to implement practices to manage irrigation water, cover crops, reduce tillage and manage nutrients.
The State Water Plan Fund is a statutory fund that is used to establish and implement water-related projects or programs and related technical assistance. The State Finance Council will transfer $15.8 million from the fund to address water quality, quantity and infrastructure needs. Specifically, the funds will support dam construction and rehabilitation as well as bolster long-term infrastructure designed to support water availability and supply, irrigation technology and water rights. The fund will also cover projects that support water quality initiatives in small towns, efforts that address contamination remediation and long-term groundwater quality monitoring.
Another $2.2 million will be directed toward reuse and reclamation of feedlot and diary water, High Plains Aquifer data collection and technical assistance to help communities get state or federal grants.