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Governor updates drought status of Kansas counties
Barton County improves to drought watch
new deh barton county drought pic
Shown is the Great Bend flood control ditch west of town after a recent storm. Rains have prompted state officials to downgrade the drought status of several counties, including Barton. - photo by Tribune file photo

 TOPEKA – Recent rains for Kansas have eased drought conditions for many areas, leading Governor Sam Brownback to update the Drought Declaration for Kansas counties with an Executive Order. 

For the past year all 105 counties have either been in an emergency, warning or watch status. This order removes approximately the majority of the state from drought and downgrades 33 Kansas counties, including Barton, to a watch drought status.

“Kansans need to know recent rains have greatly improved conditions in our state, but the effects of drought remain evident,” said Governor Brownback. “Some areas have been experiencing drought for almost six years and will need many years to completely recover. While conditions are improved, we must remain mindful of the importance of water and continue to be aware of water usage. ” 

The updated drought declaration has removed 72 counties from drought status and downgrades 33 into a watch status. This action was recommended by Tracy Streeter, Director of the Kansas Water Office and Chair of the Governor’s Drought Response Team.

“While there have been some historic rain events this past month, we are not going to take our eye off of drought planning and future mitigation,” said Tracy Streeter. “As we start to enter into warmer drier months of the year, we know drought conditions can return quickly.” 

This Executive Order shall remain in effect for those counties so identified until or superseded by a subsequent Executive Order revising the drought stage status of the affected counties.  Effective immediately:

• Declare a Drought Watch for the counties identified below;

• Authorize and direct all agencies under the jurisdiction of the Governor to implement the appropriate watch level-drought response actions assigned in the Operations Plan of the Governor’s Drought Response Team.

The Governor’s Drought Response Team will continue to watch the situation closely and work to minimize the effects the drought still has on Kansans. 

County Drought Stage Declarations:

Drought Watch: Barton, Cheyenne, Decatur, Ellis, Finney, Gove, Graham, Grant, Gray, Greeley, Hamilton, Kearny, Lane, Logan, Morton, Ness, Norton, Osborne, Phillips, Rawlins, Rooks, Rush, Russell, Scott, Sheridan, Sherman, Smith, Stanton, Stevens, Thomas, Trego, Wallace and Wichita.

For more detailed information about current conditions, see the Kansas Climate Summary and Drought Report on the Kansas Water Office website at: . Please note this is separate from the 2015 USDA Secretarial Drought Disaster declaration which is based on agricultural losses.