Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

February 1995


Published in Great Plains Research 5:1 (February 1995). Copyright © 1995 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


A water use regulation order by the Chief Engineer of the Division of Water Resources of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture addressed a controversial issue: water allocation for agricultural, wetland, and urban users in Central Kansas. The specific study area includes Cheyenne Bottoms Wetland, a preserve with important habitat conditions for many migratory bird species. This region is economically dependent on irrigated agriculture. Groundwater withdrawal for irrigation had caused the water table to decline and left the wetland with no consistent water source. The Chief Engineer required many farmers to reduce their irrigation water use. An evaluation of this order indicates that it was a logical regulation, given current water law. Although many farmers fear its impact on future water use regulation decisions, analysis reveals that this decision will not set a legal precedent.