MANHATTAN — On Wednesday, David Barfield, chief engineer at the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Division of Water Resources, contingently approved change applications by the cities of Hays and Russell to convert the irrigation rights of the R9 Ranch in Edwards County to municipal use for the cities.
The city of Hays purchased the approximately 7,000-acre ranch in 1995, and in 2015 Hays and Russell submitted applications to KDA–DWR to change the use made of water from irrigation to municipal use for the water rights on the property. The requested changes are related to and contingent upon the cities’ pending application to transfer water under the state’s Water Transfer Act. Now that the changes have been contingently approved, the water transfer proceeding will be initiated to determine whether it is in the state’s overall best interest to allow the transfer of the water.
The approval documents signed this week include a 53-page master order as well as 32 individual change approvals, a review of the significant public input received, and other attachments and exhibits. Due to the magnitude of the project, it has been subject to an expanded public review process.
The irrigation rights of the R9 Ranch include 32 water rights covering 56 points of diversion which have a total authorized quantity of 7,647 acre-feet per year for irrigation. As a result of the changes in use made of water, the total authorized quantity is being reduced to a maximum of 6,756.8 AF/year for municipal use. In addition, the chief engineer is imposing a 10-year rolling aggregate limitation of 48,000 AF (an average of 4,800 AF/year), based on the reasonable long-term yield of the R9 Ranch.
The KDA–DWR website dedicated to the project — agriculture.ks.gov/HaysR9 — has been updated with the approval documents and summary of the approvals’ terms and conditions. The website will continue to be maintained with public information related to the upcoming water transfer proceedings.